Major Advice for Major Advisors

by Caleb Powers | 4/3/06 5:00am

I love my Hinman Box. It is to BlitzMail what stealing cars and killing prostitutes is to simply playing Grand Theft Auto video games; it's more interactive, more old school, more fun and it often involves money from Grandma.

Last term my box brought me all kinds of fun reading materials. By far my favorite of these materials was the ever-relevant Student Assembly's "Campus Update," which featured glamour shots of our favorite elected student representatives and little blurbs about the projects on which they were working and how they felt about them (such as "I am very psyched for Winter term!"). It was a good reminder that there's kind of somebody there for us.

Less entertaining but more thought-provoking news came to my box a week or so later. It was an envelope stuffed with a few strange-looking cards with all kinds of words and boxes on them and an accompanying letter saying something about declaring a major. Within about nine minutes I was sitting down in the Courtyard Cafe with my mayonnaise club on wheat with turkey and had already lost the envelope. I shrugged it off and didn't think much about it.

By the end of the term, I was thinking about that envelope again as all of my sophomore friends preparing to be off campus for spring term rushed around to "get their major cards signed." "What is this major card nonsense of which you speak?" I would ask them. They'd respond that they had to get it done before they left for community service projects in Bangladesh or some other far-off place, and I went on my merry way not worrying too much about anything at all.

Now it's Spring term and I've been hearing all of this major and minor card discussion again. Apparently I have to, like, decide what I am doing for the rest of my college career in the next few days. If you're anything like me, you spend most of your time hating yourself. This leaves very little time for things like navigating the Dartmouth website for important dates and information regarding things like major and minor selection. So what am I supposed to be doing?

It's at times like this that I realize how far behind Dartmouth is in its advising system. I met with my assigned faculty advisor once freshman fall, but we didn't have much to say to each other. But that is to be expected, right? There was no real and relevant advice that a professor in the government department could give a new freshman who was still trying to decide in what he even wanted to consider majoring. All of the basic questions I had were not important enough to bother a busy professor with, and by talking to older students I was able to get a good enough idea of how one should go about being a student at Dartmouth.

Now that the classes we're taking and the decisions we're making actually matter, we could really use somebody to talk to about the basic housekeeping questions of being a student. I know that I should already have "major advisors" by now and solid relationships with many faculty members, but the truth is I don't have much of either, and even with the professors I do know well, I don't feel like I have my thoughts or desires organized enough to schedule a meeting with them. At this point, I would love to have somebody who has the assigned job of having me come in and express my thoughts: "Blah," because everyone else seems to be sick of it. Many sophomores with which I speak are experiencing similar feelings of angst, so either I'm on to something or my friends are all the laziest people at this school. (Both are probably true.)

I would bring my grievances to Student Assembly, but with the wild success of the DDS Advisory Committee and the popularity of the new anti-Topside meal plan system, combined with its stellar efficiency at sending out glossy updates and being "psyched" for terms, the kind of progress it could make with advising at Dartmouth is probably more than what I'm looking for. I've just got these weird cards and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with them.

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