The annual Bellarmine tradition of “New Advisor Day” happens this week. I want to take a minute to talk about the significance of this event in the academic lives of BU freshmen.
Ever since freshmen got to campus in August, those who “knew” what they wanted to major in, what career they ultimately aspired to, were anxious to get on with meeting an advisor in their major. They come to the ARC and ask: “Who is my advisor? I’m a Theatre major, and I want to talk to someone about Theatre.”
Our standard answer is always: “Your advisor is your Freshman Focus instructor.” Most students seem to like their Focus instructor well enough, but that doesn’t keep them from being visibly disappointed that they haven’t been assigned an advisor in their major. They want to get on with it!
I’ll digress for a minute. Bear with me. The reason Bellarmine doesn’t assign advisors in a student’s major from the beginning is because we’ve learned that students change their minds. What seemed like a great idea for a major as a senior in high school doesn’t always seem like the best plan after one semester testing the college waters—seeing what worked, what didn’t. Often it isn’t even a significant academic set-back that initiates the change of heart and mind. Instead, students get exposed to an exciting possibility they didn’t even knew existed as a high school student.
So, what we don’t want is for students to feel inadequate that they didn’t choose the “right” major from the beginning or guilty for making a connection in one department, only to say “sorry, it’s not you; it’s me.” Instead, the Freshman Focus class and advising program recruits faculty from academic departments and staff across campus. First semester emphasizes transitioning and connecting with Bellarmine without the added pressure to transition into a department. If students wish to seek out someone in their declared major, we encourage them to initiate that contact!
(Back on topic!) However, all this transitioning leads many freshmen— those that have been waiting and those that declare or change a major after first semester— justifiably ready to meet “their” advisor—the one from the department of their declared major. And that’s how New Advisor Day was born. On Thursday during free period in Frazier Hall, freshmen will gather and then separate into their individual majors. This will give them a chance to meet faculty, other freshmen, and an upperclassmen (or two) in that major.
So, ask your student about New Advisor Day! Students’ new advisors will also be listed in their student portal on My.Bellarmine. Also, try to be supportive if your student changes majors—what have you changed your mind about since you were eighteen?