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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Academic advisors shouldn’t feel like enemies

    My least favorite part of the semester is upon me, but it has nothing to do with already-looming finals or the assignments that I thought I had months to complete whose due dates are suddenly piling up.

    What I’m referring to is the single most stressful week of every semester: class registration.

    Everyone knows the woes of that dreaded task. Waking up at 8 on a Saturday morning only to find that WebReg is so backed up, you’ll never get the classes you need. Spending hours crafting a perfect schedule, then discovering that everything is full except 9 a.m. on Fridays. Stalking that one empty seat in a class you desperately need to graduate while you refresh WebReg over and over, praying that the “”error”” message will eventually give way. It’s a process rife with complications, one that has every student screaming in frustration.

    We all know WebReg – pardon the phrase – sucks. But more than those agonizing four-hour windows of priority registration nightmare, I dread the process leading up to them. In my four semesters at the UA, I have never had a pleasant advising experience. That is not to say that my advisors themselves are always unpleasant, but the system itself is broken.

    When advising season rolls around, I am inundated with e-mails detailing the labyrinthine processes by which I must make my appointments. I cannot call, I cannot e-mail, I cannot sign up online. I must bring proof of my class standing and I can only sign up for a 10-minute window somewhere within a five-day bracket. Already, I’m exhausted with “”can’t”” and “”mustn’t.””

    As an honors student with two majors and a minor, I receive at least three and often four or five series of these e-mails every semester. Each department has its own bizarre procedures. After running from office to office making my appointments, my schedule for the week of priority registration looks more like that of a high-powered executive than a confused college student. Back-to-back hyper-speed advising appointments for five days straight throw me into full-blown, hyperventilating panic mode, before I have even attended a single one of them.

    Impossible as it might seem, the appointments themselves are even worse. I arrive the requested five minutes early, SAPR in hand, only to find that the whole department is running behind schedule. When I do meet with my advisor, it’s invariably a different person than the last time; although how would I know, since I’ve only seen any of their faces for a breathless 10-minute increment once every four months?

    I hand over my SAPR and meekly suggest the classes I might like to take, but am met with a firing squad of “”no-no-no-no-no!”” Something isn’t being offered that semester, something else must be taken in a different order, yet another class is already full. And the worst excuse of all: that’s not on the track.

    I can read my SAPR. It’s a vastly convoluted document, sure, but I’ve gotten the hang of it in the past two years. I know the requirements, I know the tracks. I have my SAPR to tell me no. I don’t need an advisor to regurgitate the information I already have; I need him or her to advise me. Inevitably, I feel like I’m doing battle with these people, like it’s Heather versus the English department, Heather versus Spanish and Portuguese.

    I just don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. My advisors should not be my adversaries. It’s not their job to tell me no, but rather to make something work, to help me worm my way past the restrictive tracks and into the classes that will help me not just graduate but grow. Is it too much to ask for a little advising that feels like advice, not mandates? I’m fed up with no, and ready for someone to realize it’s their job to figure out a way to tell me yes.

    I hope to be pleasantly surprised this time around, but I imagine the budget disaster has spread advising thinner than ever before. So under these worst of circumstances, I’d be happy with even a small breakthrough -ÿone advising appointment that doesn’t make me feel the need to tuck my tail between my legs and slink away, ashamed at having suggested anything off the track.

    Heather Price-Wright is a creative writing and Latin American studies sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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