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The Campanile

Advisory reform is necessary for individualized attention

As many seniors rush to obtain the materials necessary to complete their college applications, it’s important to recognize that at the core of all this activity is their relationship with their teacher adviser. But what if a student has only exchanged a total of six words with an adviser over the last three years?

Our hope is that the Advisory Steering Committee, chaired by Assistant Principal Clarisse Haxton and science teacher Joshua Bloom, will improve the present advisory system, and we commend them for their efforts.

According to Haxton and Bloom, the committee’s goal is to research and collect data regarding the advisory experience, as well as to make recommendations about how to reform advisory over the next three to five years. They say their committee aims to analyze how well advisory meets the needs of students and how it can better meet these needs, which is a strong start.

The main concerns regarding advisory are the tension between advisory and tutorial, the difference between the systems at Gunn and Paly, and the lack of connectedness and familiarity between students and their teacher advisers, according to Haxton and Bloom. 

We appreciate the Advisory Steering Committee’s efforts to hear student voices through surveying all students about advisory, as well as assembling student focus groups of different grade levels. The Campanile thinks it is essential to be inclusive during a process of change, and the administration should use this committee’s work as an example of how to collect broad student input when making major decisions that affect students’ lives.

In order to improve the advisory system, we think advisory ought to be one-on-one, with each student having a designated time to meet individually with a teacher adviser. This would make advisory more tailored, efficient and effective. An added benefit would be that students planning to pursue alternative pathways would not have to participate in the required college application lessons that are currently part of the advisory curriculum, and could use that time for more relevant pursuits.

Additionally, by meeting on an individual basis, advisers and advisees will have the opportunity to become more familiar with one another. This would likely make counselor recommendations more personalized, as well as better meet the original purpose of advisory — to forge connections between students and trusted adults on campus.

It is clear that the Advisory Steering Committee is headed in the right direction, and The Campanile thinks its proactive measures will help improve the current system. We urge students, staff and teacher advisers to support this initiative and implement the committee’s recommendations, while in the meantime, continuing to find more ways to make advisory an opportunity for developing personal connections between students and advisers.

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