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Editorial: It’s time for Brown to reform its faculty advising

There’s a clear need for robust advising, but Brown is devoid of a system that effectively guides and supports its students.

As pre-registration comes to an end, many of us are reminded of the inadequacy of Brown’s faculty advising system. Whether you were met with a deafening silence from your advisor or a last-minute registration pin number, it is during this time of year when Brown’s lack of support becomes more apparent. If your advisor scheduled a meeting to discuss course selection, consider yourself lucky. While advisors have a critical role to play in students’ academic trajectories, many fail to show up for their students — an issue rooted in the underlying weaknesses of the University’s advising programs. Brown must reform the structure of its faculty advising system in order to adequately support its undergraduate population all the way from freshman to senior year.

At an institution like Brown, strong advising is imperative for students to navigate the Open Curriculum effectively. The academic liberty afforded to students is one of Brown’s most celebrated features. But without adequate curricular advising, this very same freedom can lead to elevated feelings of stress and confusion..  Once students select a concentration, advisors can be invaluable for providing advice targeted toward different disciplines with different requirements. Furthermore, advising offers a valuable place where students can build relationships with professors who are experts  in their discipline of interest — a poor advising infrastructure is a missed opportunity for valuable networking connections.  

There’s a clear need for robust advising, but Brown is devoid of a system that effectively guides and supports its students. Despite the University’s claim that its formal advising program “provides the most structured forms of support for [its] students,”] advising is often overreliant on student proactivity. Because the University has effectively no requirements for how often advisors must meet with their students,, communication with advisors often only happens when instigated by the student. Sure, most advisors will respond if and when they are emailed specific questions, but that is not nearly enough. Faculty advisors should be actively involved in the academic lives of their students — at the very least, pro-actively scheduling meetings in the weeks leading up to big deadlines like pre-registration or concentration declarations. Students already have to balance the stress of extracurricular activities and academics, keeping an advisor relationship alive should not be another burden added onto students. 

First-year advising has already been heavily criticized, but Brown’s advising also plagues  the sophomore, junior and senior experience as well. As it stands, advising support dwindles the older students get, evidenced by the loss of a Meiklejohn peer advisor. While needs change at each class level, the amount of support should stay the same.


It is important that Brown advising is equipped to address the distinct needs of students at all stages of their Brown experience. First-year advisors should be responsible for communicating all of the steps for pre-registration, including the process of requesting override codes, the details of getting into the registration queue and overall tips for course selection. For sophomores, advisors should have mandatory meetings set in place to discuss concentration declarations and help students select their concentration advisors. For juniors and seniors, advisors need to provide more instruction on finding the right thesis advisor, for example. The handbooks provided by the University to advisors and students (which suggest a meeting schedule of at least three meetings per semester) are not sufficient scaffolding for these responsibilities.

The University needs to enforce the relationship between students and advisors strictly. Brown can start by investing more time and resources to train its faculty advisors, ensuring they all operate under the same standardized information and expectations. For example, there must be pre-scheduled mandatory meetings If expectations are formalized, Brown can also hold advisors accountable for disengagement. Professors alone have a lot on their plate. If they do not have the time to be an advisor, they should not be. On the other hand, Brown should support its advisors the same way advisors must support students — by providing the necessary resources for mentoring success.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board and aim to contribute informed opinions to campus debates while remaining mindful of the group’s past stances. The editorial page board and its views are separate from The Herald’s newsroom and the 134th Editorial Board, which leads the paper. This editorial was written by the editorial page board’s members Paul Hudes ’27, Paulie Malherbe ’26, Laura Romig ’25, Alissa Simon ’25, and Yael Wellisch ’26.


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