I became the director of PSU’s General Studies during the summer of 2006 and became of sole advisor for the program in the fall of 2009. To this date, I have received no formal training in advisement. (As soon as I say that, Heather Eckstein will remind me I attended one of her workshops back in ‘11, but if she did, I don’t remember it.)
I’ve had no formal training as an advisor, and for years I said that I really didn’t use my advisor when I was an undergraduate. I studied the catalog, filled out my 8.5 by 5.5 enrollment card, put it in front of my advisor, and he signed it.
That is all true. But that having been said, I did have an advisor.
My parents didn’t have college degrees, so my brother and I didn’t have their help, but our neighbor was a couple of years older than us and was going to college. When I told him I was going to be a math major, he told me that I was lucky. The math major at my alma mater only required 32 hours (or 36, I am getting old) and it counted College Algebra and Trigonometry. Since I’d had both of those in high school, my friend said that I could just re-take those, sand-bagging them, and sail on through with a cheap degree.
It made sense to me, then a rather idiotic 17-year-old.
I went to enroll for summer school, and talked Mr. Kenneth R. Brady, who was then the interim chair of the department. I told him the math I’d taken and then informed him of my plans to start with College Algebra and Trigonometry. Before those words were done echoing around his office, I’d been disabused of that notice.
I was told that I would be taking Analytic Geometry that summer so that in the Fall I could take Calculus I to be followed by Calculus II in the spring. Then in the following I would be able to take Differential Equations and that would put me in good stead where I could do papers at the regional mathematical conferences and get some exposure to the local grad schools.
That was a whole new world that I was ignorant of and my neighbor was ignorant of.
We on this campus have opportunities to open doors for our students just the way Mr. Brady did for me. There have been times when I’ve been worried about being presumptuous or pushy. I thankful that Mr. Brady pushed past whatever qualms he might’ve had.
Advising is an important part of what we do, and we do it by establishing the right sort of relationship with our students. We can help them through the system of the university; we can help them see the opportunities in a larger world.
–Bobby Winters, Associate Dean