Today I began my one month foray into Academic Advising. Rather than picking up a summer teaching course, I decided to step out of the academic cocoon that is the math department to see what else is going on around the university. It turns out there’s quite a bit.
UF’s Preview program has been recognized as the nation’s best academic advising program (I don’t know who gives out awards like that, but still I’d imagine it’s a pretty competitive field) and I’m proud to be a part of it this year. Every incoming freshman is required to come to campus for a few days with their parents for a formal introduction to UF. Along with a faculty advisor, they declare a major and we sit together to work through their first semester schedules. We’re there in part to make sure their schedule include critical tracking courses and to smooth out certain academic hurdles, but it’s already clear that the main thing we faculty do is to reassure them that 1) yes, your schedule looks a lot different than what you did in high school, but 2) it’s supposed to! Students tend to be reluctant to schedule classes that sound like fun. Some that came up on my first day were: “The Meat We Eat,” “Sports Media and Society” and “Marriage and Family.”
My advice to these incoming freshman (and to any undergraduates anywhere): If you don’t have at least one class each semester that just involuntarily brings a smile to your face when you think about it … you’re not doing it right!