In addition to campus maps that clearly illustrate the location of the Diag, students should be equipped throughout their undergraduate career with an equally clear map of what opportunities the University has to offer, the President’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience suggests.
The commission’s report found room for improvement in the University’s academic advising and recommended an overhaul of the system.
“Despite recent, admirable efforts to professionalize and interlink the advising staff, advising remains underresourced and fragmented at the University,” the report states. Inadequate communication between academic advisers, peer advisers and resident advisers is one area the report says can be improved.
“You can always have better advising,” committee member Stephen Darwall said. “One perception we found from students who chose not to attend the University was a concern about the level of individual attention.”
The commission found that upper-level students often receive the bare minimum of counseling – just enough to verify that they have the correct credits needed to graduate.
Students receive advising in their concentration field “from faculty who often opt out of even the most rudimentary counseling role,” the commission found. “The result – through no fault of the advising staff itself – exemplifies the inhospitality and routinization of public higher education at its worst.”
The committee called for more integrated and cooperative advising from all sectors of the University.
“The University has an amazing collection of intellectual and cultural resources,” Darwall said. Students should be encouraged to take advantage of the wide curriculum, and museums and cultural events on campus.
Darwall said he recently attended a concert at Hill Auditorium where there were few students in attendance.
Darwall said part of the challenge is to make organizations such as the University Musical Society more accessible to students, but in addition the University has to “make students more aware of what’s at their doorstep,” he said.
Part of this could be done via the Internet, but this does not rule out individual contact with advisers, the commission said. “Staff and faculty need to teach students how to find, organize, and choose among the opportunities that the University presents – not simply present those opportunities like some well-organized smorgasbord.”