BlogDH Explains: Academic Advising

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Meiklewho?

At this point, you’ve moved into your humble abode with your new roommate. You’ve experienced the awkward circles of eager freshmen that form at the Ice Cream Social. You might have even experienced your first college party. You’re thinking, “this is [insert expletive of choice] great!” While you’re experiencing all of these things for the first time, it’s easy to forget the reason why you came here: to learn. Luckily, we’re here to remind you.

Classes start this Wednesday, September 4. Fear not, however, for you won’t be entering the process blindly. At Brown we have a comprehensive academic advising system for freshmen called the Meiklejohn Peer Advising Program. Each of you has a Meiklejohn (pronounced like pickle but with an “m”) who is an older student that has gone through everything you’re about to experience. Your Meik is the ultimate source of knowledge for you and the most valuable resource for all things related to Brown. If don’t know something, your Meik can point you in the direction someone who does.

In addition to your Meiklejohn, you have an academic advisor who will help you decide what classes to take, as well as what steps you should be taking to accomplish your goals (or even help figure out what your goals actually are). Tomorrow morning you’ll meet both of your advisors for the first time. Here are a couple tips to keep in mind when you meet them:

  1. Open up to your advisors. Actually give them the chance to get to know you. As a freshman, it’s easy to want to seem like you know what you’re doing. The truth is that most of the time you’re lost. And that’s perfectly fine. The advising program is here to help you! Your Meik and faculty advisor can help you best when they truly know you, your academic and extracurricular interests, and your concerns.
  2. Actually listen to what they have to say. Keep an open mind when talking to your advisors. You might be paired with advisors whose academic interests align with yours, or you might be interested in studying literature, and they specialize in medicine. It might not seem like a good fit at first, but they still have loads of experience that can help you out. Don’t be afraid to listen to them and branch out with your interests.
  3. Don’t blow off meetings. Your advisors are giving their time to meet with you. You’ll start off on a terrible note if you ditch the first meeting for a couple hours of sleep. Make sure you make it tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the predetermined location, which you can find in your orientation packet.
  4. Maintain your relationship throughout the whole year. Certain advisors are more involved than others. While maintaining a good relationship is a two-way street, you play an extremely active role in making the most of your resources. Make sure you email or meet with them often to maintain a constant conversation. Don’t only contact them when you’re in crisis mode. They’re there to support you and would love to know how your year is going.
  5. Come prepared to meetings. Most meetings you’ll have with them aren’t very long, so it’s essential that you come to the meeting with talking points and questions prepared. Want to know which classes to take? Ask your Meik about different options you’re considering. Having issues with your roommate? Talk to your Meik about possible solutions and resources to help you with your problem. Be specific with your questions and don’t be afraid to explore new ideas with your advisors.

Now you’re ready for the school year to really begin. If you have any questions, just contact your Meik, who will let you know the best way to reach him/her when you meet for the first time. There’s also a cool new resource called Brown Advisors that the Meiklejohn program developed this summer. It’s a Facebook page like Brown Compliments (that we started back in November to spread the love) but for advising. You can anonymously submit a question and if it gets posted on the page, Meiks will answer it for you. So ask away, young Brunonians, ask away. A great year awaits you.

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