Should Advisors Suggest Major Changes: Yes or No?
Respect the advisor’s experienced opinion.
As students start to enter into upper-division classes, knowledge and skills are put to the test. If a student struggled with the lower-division major classes, the advanced classes wouldn’t be any easier. The advisor, with their access to grades and course histories, has the responsibility to inform a student if their grades disqualify them from further studying in their major.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise for students who don’t have good grades or great relationships with their professors when their advisor suggests a change of major. Sometimes the fit just isn’t right and an advisor is someone qualified to know and recognize that. This suggestion shouldn’t come as an insult either. They are just verbalizing what is already known.
When a student is enrolled in upper-division courses against an advisor’s better judgement, others in the class know. Being ill-prepared for those advanced classes and exit courses is a disservice to the others in the class, as well as the professor: It causes more work.
While there is a chance that the challenge of being behind compared to peers in a class will motivate a student to grow and succeed, it’s more likely that other classmates will have to pick up the slack in class and resent whoever let them in. Respect the advisor’s experienced opinion.
Having an advisor suggest a major change will only temporarily set a student back. A student will be put out further if they enroll into upper level classes and fail, or eventually go on to get a degree only to struggle in the workplace due to a misleading education and realistic under-qualifications.
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Grades do not always reflect abilities.
Advisors are more experienced than most students, no doubt about it. But everyone experiences and interprets things differently. Disagreeable decisions shouldn’t be halted just because there’s opposition. Every choice should be up to a single person, as only they know what can be handled in terms of homework load and stress.
Deciding and changing majors should be choices left completely up to each student. People go to school to find what they want to do and explore, and find methods of how they learn best. College is not a place where another set of adults can regulate and control lives (other than teachers) regarding education.
While advisors should be able to encourage students to take the appropriate courses for their grade or skill level, their assessments should not go beyond helping to coordinate class schedules. Shooting down students and making convincing, life-changing suggestions isn’t an advisor’s job. They shouldn’t be discouraging students, but rather encouraging them to take a leap of faith, and see where it leads them.
Grades do not always reflect abilities. In a classroom, students with different abilities and capabilities can grow in a setting of diversity. Patience is tested, and other methods of communication become necessary. If a student wants to chase an impossible-sounding major, the decision should be completely up to them. Sometimes, the method of instruction is what stands in between a student and success in the classroom, and no student should be denied that opportunity.
The path to find a major is left up to the student alone, and should not be influenced by an opinionated advisor. In the end, why should they feel entitled to that decision? It comes down to the student’s time, money, and passion for what they’re studying.
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