Incoming Freshmen: Be advised

It is very easy to get lost in the shuffle at a large, metropolitan university like St. John’s, especially if this is a person’s first year in college. To make sure that this does not happen to the fresh-faced and bushy-tailed freshmen that are still on the high of senior prom and graduation, each one is assigned a freshman advisor from the well-known Freshman Center located in St. Augustine Hall. These advisors are supposed to help guide students in all aspects of school, including classes, professors and adjusting to a new school- all of the basic things.

Without these advisors, it is almost definite that freshmen would not have the slightest idea how to register for classes for the second semester, and what core classes should be taken. After a student’s freshman year, they go to their dean for advisement.

Freshman advisors are involved in a student’s academics even before they hit the campus. For a freshman’s first semester, their schedule is already picked for them- without any input. This is how many get stuck with 7 a.m. classes or better yet, Saturday morning classes.

Many students feel this is unfair, but have no idea how to change it, so they grumble but agree. It is a bit unfair to not explain that it can be changed when the schedule is sent to them in July. If freshmen were informed, it could aid students who know they cannot properly function before 10 a.m., instead of leaving them to do poorly in that crack of dawn class.

There are also varying types of advisors; no two are the same. Some require students to meet with them every couple of weeks, while others only require students to visit twice a semester unless there is a problem. Usually for students who catch on to the college routine quickly, the need for the Freshman Center dwindles as the year goes on.

So much so, students start to skip appointments. They get bored meeting to discuss how they are doing and hearing about the options of study abroad, which is widely promoted through the Freshman Center once second semester rolls around.

This is not a wise thing to do because a student must meet with their advisor in order to register for classes for the upcoming semester.

While they are very good at answering questions about dropping a class, when academic fairs are and how many core classes are needed for a specific major, some questions are not as easy to get answered there. Each major and program has certain criteria and different stipulations.

It is impossible for an advisor to know all of these off the top of his or her head. By going to the Freshman Center, a student may not get the whole answer and could end up waiting while the advisor calls three or four different offices, which are all usually on lunch breaks or in a meeting.

For questions about a specific major or classes that would be beneficial for a certain major, a student would be better off just speaking to a professor. Usually they are happy to give advice and steer a student in the most efficient and effective way possible. Chairs of departments are also very helpful for specific majors, and can usually be reached by e-mail.

Regarding questions about financial aid for five-year programs or travel abroad, go to the Financial Aid office where they can give you accurate, complete information.

When it comes to specific questions, it saves time and hassles just to go to the direct office or source. For general questions such as how to register for or drop classes, and how many cores are required, the Freshman Center is the right place to go.

As much as students complain when they have to go visit the Freshman Center, they should be grateful in the long run that they had someone to steer them on the right road during the turbulent first year of college.