Phi Beta Cons

How College Faculty Could Do More to Help Students

Many years ago, I heard a senior faculty member say, “Being a college professor is the best part-time job there is.”

While most faculty members try to look so busy that they couldn’t possibly do anything more, one who thinks they can and should do more is Vic Brown, who recently retired from Ursinus College. In today’s Pope Center piece, he argues that the faculty (many of them, anyway) are not doing a very good job in advising students as to the courses that would do them the most good.

Some years ago, he asked his students in an international marketing course how they chose their electives. They answers were dismaying, mostly along these lines: “I heard the instructor was easy” or “the class fit into my schedule.” Brown writes, “None of them said they’d chosen an elective because they thought it would add specific value to them after graduation.”

At Ursinus and everywhere else, students have faculty advisers, but, Brown argues, the advisers frequently give perfunctory advice on how to satisfy the school’s degree requirements, not advice that would help students who really want to maximize the value of their college time to pick the optimal courses.

He suggests that colleges should devote some of the available time to do a better job of guiding students into the courses that will serve them well in their careers — not merely fulfill their degree requirements.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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