Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Vol 39, No 1 (2010)

Advice for Advisors

10.1558/bsor.v39i1.008

 

Advice for Advisors

 

Reed M. N. Weep

 

Advising is one of the most challenging responsibilities of the professional academic. Students come to their professors with impossibly abstruse questions like Does this Judaism course count for the religion major? How are you supposed to know the answer to that? Your advisee doesnt really think you have time to look it up in the catalogue, does she? And then you run into that student who wants to tell you all about her hopes and dreams. She doesnt realize you have hopes and dreams, too. You were hoping to watch that episode of Mad Men you missed before happy hour, but youll never make it if she doesnt stop yammering. To expedite the advisor/advisee encounter, this column provides a few common scenarios, with advice about how you should respond.

 

The Cyndi Scenario

 

Background: Cyndi is a sophomore with a less that stellar academic record, alternating semesters that are mostly As and Bs and mostly Ds and Ws. When you ask about those problem semesters, she responds, Oh yeah, I stopped going to class. Cyndi has recently switched to religion from history, because That history guy was kinda harsh. Now she is seeking permission to register for classes for the spring semester.

 

Advisee says: I want to take fifteen hours. Im having a baby in March, but I figure Ill only miss a class or two. So Im going to take some upper-level classes, pull my GPA up, go to grad school for a Ph.D., and become a college religion professor.

 

Advisor responds: No, you wont.

 

The Brett Scenario

 

Background: Brett comes to see you in the spring semester. Hes a Recreation and Leisure Studies major with a 2.5 GPA, one of the highest in that department. Hes planning to graduate at the end of the semester, but has just realized that he is missing a humanities class from the core curriculum.

 

Advisee says: Thats not a problem. Im going to convince the religion chair to give me credit for a course that I took at the Brush Arbor Summer Bible School.

 

Advisor responds: No, you wont.

 

The Lavender Scenario

 

Background: Lavender is a student in the religion masters program. She has completed all of the required courses with a near perfect 4.0. Recently she moved to the state capital to take a job with the Department of Corrections. She is in your office to discuss completing her masters thesis. Her supervisor hasnt seen a page of it so far.

 

Advisee says: Im going to write the thesis over the next couple of weekends, so that I can get it finished by the deadline the end of this month. Then Ill graduate this semester.

 

Advisor responds: No, you wont.

 

The Steve Scenario

 

Background: Steves a sophomore whose GPA was so low last semester he was placed on academic suspension. This, he explains, was because The classes were hard. Steve is in your office to make a case for a waiver of the suspension. He just got a new job working the graveyard shift with a major shipping company.

 

Advisee says: This will be great. Im going to work from eleven to seven five days a week. Go home and sleep for a couple of hours. And then be on campus for ten oclock classes.

 

Advisor responds: No, you wont.

 

The Killer Scenario

 

Background: Killer is also on academic suspension because of poor grades. He is also the star running back on Large Midwestern U.s football team, the Fighting Pheasants. Killer is seeking to have his suspension lifted. He confesses that he may have invested too much time in athletics and not enough in academics.

 

Advisee says: Coach says that if my suspension is lifted, I can still play for the Pheasants, but I think I can still concentrate on school. I wont play in games. I wont even practice with the team. Ill spend all my time on my classes.

 

Advisor responds: No, you wont.

 

The Tina Scenario

 

Background: Tina is a first-semester senior. She has very good grades, and a solid GRE score. She has been active in student government and a real leader in your departments student club, with the people skills to get other students involved. Tina has come to see you because she is having second thoughts about going on to grad school in religion.

 

Advisee says: Im not smart enough for grad school. When I get there Im going choke, and theyll see what a fraud I am. Ill amass a mountain of debt, and end up sleeping in a dumpster in some alley.

 

Advisors response: No, you wont.

 

A regular columnist for the Bulletin and a professor of religion and department chair at a large midwestern university, Reed Weep is the proud recipient of the Fighting Pheasant Excellence in Advising Award. Hell probably write a substantial and important essay for his next column. No, he wont.

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