Are you my Advisor?

The Nightmare of Switching Advisors

Illustrator: Lauren Smith

The summer leading up to my freshman year of college, I was what every freshman was: excited, a little apprehensive, but mostly ready to get out of the house. After attending orientation in early June and meeting with my relatable academic advisor, Natan Paradise, I set up a schedule that I loved and felt ready for the school year. However, in the middle of July, I received an email that said my advisor was leaving his position because he accepted a different position at the U. This was a fairly hard decision for Dr. Paradise; he had been a CLA advisor for 15 years.

When asked why he left this position, Dr. Paradise stated, “For a job to pull me out of advising, it had to be in CLA, and it had to be a job where I thought I could make as much of a difference for the students and for the college as I made as an advisor. That job finally came, when I was offered the position of Associate Director of the Center for Jewish Studies.”

Although slightly disappointed to lose such a great advisor, I was excited for Dr. Paradise’s new opportunity, and I was promised to be assigned a new advisor by August, so I didn’t think about it too much.

School rolled around, and I still had no advisor. I decided not to worry and just roll with it. However, after finding out that I could not be in my Spanish class any longer, I started to worry because I lost five credits and was now labeled a part-time student. I signed up for a drop-in appointment the next day and crossed my fingers in hope that everything would work out.

The next day, I met with a new advisor, explained my unfortunate predicament, and waited for the sage advice of this stranger. We went back and forth about what my options were and finally landed on the decision to fill in my schedule with a history class. Then the time was up, and I was off on my own again.

There was another glitch with the scheduling (thanks, Schedule Builder), and I had to schedule another drop-in. At this point, I was really curious as to where my supposed “new” advisor was… sitting on a beach? Enjoying a drink at the bar? Nonetheless, I submitted my request to meet with yet another stranger to put my life together in 15 minutes.

I sat down with my new temporary advisor and watched as she started the clock on our appointment. The time started ticking away as I once again explained the unfortunate situation I was in and waited for a solution that did not leave me as a part-time student. Time seemed to melt off the clock, and I was suddenly being ushered out of the office with various sheets and numbers to refer to.

All said and done, my schedule was finally figured out, and I once again had enough credits to be considered a full-time student. In late October, I received the email I had been waiting for: I had finally been assigned a new advisor.

The time started ticking away as I once again explained the unfortunate situation I was in and waited for a solution that did not leave me as a part-time student.

Coming in as a freshman, it was pretty stressful to have to deal with the constant bouncing between random advisors and having to explain my situation over and over again. Although I was promised a new advisor before the start of school, I failed to get one until a month and a half into the school year.

I asked Dr. Paradise why it took so long for the position to be filled, and he explained: “First of all, CLA won’t hire just anybody to be an advisor. It’s too important a job. It takes a while to find somebody who already has experience in advising, who is deeply committed to the liberal arts, who has demonstrated the ability to develop a rapport with students, who has demonstrated an abiding allegiance to diversity and inclusivity, who knows something about career development—the list of requirements and expectations goes on and on. So that takes time, and it requires the time of multiple advisors to read applications from many dozens of candidates, interview multiple candidates, choose which ones to send to second-round interviews with administrators, and then make the hire.”

Even though it took much longer than expected to be assigned a new advisor, I was pleased to find out that the university takes a considerable amount of time to fill the spot because they seek someone who is perfect for the position of an academic advisor.