Frosh Advisory Largely Ineffective, Should Be Reimagined for Future

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Advisory offers a valuable opportunity to give freshmen support and guidance, but freshmen aren’t currently reaping its full benefits. The school should re-evaluate and reorganize Advisory, possibly reducing it to a few sessions at the beginning and end of first semester.

All freshmen have Advisory classes during first semester, and for the most part, freshmen would rather do without it. Out of 235 freshmen polled, only 12 said that they would prefer to have Advisory over Tutorial or a regular Monday schedule on Tuesdays. Fifty-seven percent of those polled (131 respondents) said that they rarely or never found Advisory helpful.

At the end of last year, Advisory was reorganized to give it more structure. This year, teachers had binders of activities that they could choose from and use as lesson plans. While this was a change for the better, it was not enough to turn Advisory around—less than 20 percent of freshmen polled said they found the activities were the most helpful part of Advisory. Especially when compared to the value of study time, activities can often get in the way of productivity.

However, Advisory does have the potential to be more than worktime. The school uses Advisory to help freshmen transition into high school, a service that is mostly helpful during the first few weeks of the school year.

After that, the school could use Advisory as a sort of “homeroom,” where freshmen could check in with their Advisory teachers and student freshman advisors, and if necessary, go talk to other teachers. Otherwise, students could use Advisory as a work period.

Advisory classes could return to having a more structured curriculum toward the end of first semester, to give freshmen information about finals. This would be a more organic way to help freshmen adjust to high school—giving them extra support at the most difficult times of first semester, and checking in on them throughout while still giving them time to meet with teachers.

While this wouldn’t help Advisory build community, the current system is not set up to do this either.

“The overall point of Advisory is to give freshman some experiences and some information about what high school is like,” science teacher Thomas Budd said. Budd, along with history teacher Deedee Pearce, reworked the Advisory system at the end of last year.

Even if Advisory were to emphasize community more, it is naturally constrained by its format.

“[Advisory classes] only meet once a week, the community building won’t feel authentic no matter how we spin it,” English teacher Jonathan Kwan said.

In order to truly build a sense of community, the school would have to drastically rethink Advisory to try to create a genuine community. Otherwise, it should organize Advisory to optimize the benefit for freshmen, in terms of both support and time to work.