Alright, folks. Let’s get down to business. Buying cookies and arguing about peanut butter are frivolous, if funny, activities. I’d like to dedicate this post to my experience so far with academic advising at MIT, which is totally serious, all the time.
I live in Nest House, which is one of the few living groups that has Residence Based Advising, or RBA. As a Nextie, I had a choice between traditional and seminar advising. As I understood when applying for housing, traditional is exactly what it sounds like. You’re assigned a supervisor, you schedule meetings, discuss classes, etc. Seminar advising is all this, and more! You meet with your advisor every semester to talk mano-a-mano about which classes to take, and then every week you meet for an hour and a half with the advisor to discuss some subject in a group of around 8 housemates in a relaxed atmosphere. Oh, and you get academic credit for this, and the seminar group does things like watch movies, go out for dinner, or see comedy shows.
Of course, I entered the seminar lottery, and there were plenty subjects to chose from. I was assigned SEM.151, the Masculine Identity. At first I didn’t know how to take the news. This placement was smelly for a couple of reasons:
A) I didn’t know I needed a seminar on masculinity. I reread my application essays to see if something gave it away.
B) I didn’t know there was a seminar on masculinity. To be fair, by the time I got my seminar assignment, I had forgotten my entire lottery preference order. I don’t actually remember which ones I listed, so I just told my advisor that masculinity was my first choice. My integrity is so worth brownie points with the leader of a 6 unit seminar during pass/no record.
I really didn’t know what to expect from the advising system. Near the end of orientation, I met with my advisor, Mr Kennedy, to choose my classes. All was good until a few days later when our schedules were posted online. My humanities class conflicted with my chemistry lecture, so I had to shop around for a new one. At first I was actually pretty worried. Class conflict. Sounds serious. I emailed Mr Kennedy and he guided me through the process of adding and dropping classes.
The first meeting with the seminar was at a restaurant where we dined on MIT’s bill. A good sign, for sure. And Mr Kennedy is hilarious. He should be, too.
He’s a standup comedian.
As you can imagine, our seminar meetings have been equal parts discussion and hysterical laughter. We meet every Monday in the Next House dining room before meal service starts. Each week, Mr Kennedy (although he prefers we call him by his first name) assigns a journal entry. He basically asks us to tell him our opinions on a certain subject, for example, the different expectations of the genders when it comes to partying. We discuss our journals during the seminar, with everyone cracking jokes every now and then. I really look forward to our meetings. It’s a great way to start off the week. How are your Mondays? Mine include talking with a real-live standup.
As a group, we have outings planned to see films that deal with gender roles. Also, Amanda ’11 helps out with the seminar as a Resident Associate Advisor. She does cool things, like leaving bags of chocolate at our doors the night before our first 8.01 exam. She also sent us all emails wishing us luck about an hour before the test.
In addition, Mr Kennedy kindly agreed to be my reference for MedLinks, a student organization that gives medical help and counseling to students who need it. Their application was due right after Hurricane Ike hit Houston, so naturally it was imprudent to ask anyone there to speak on my behalf. This instance and the class conflict problem really make me confident in knowing that he’ll be there whenever I have a serious issue.
A month into school, and I’m on a first-name basis with my academic advisor (who moonlights as a standup comic) and my RAA is leaving candy for me before tests. At risk of sounding cheesy, they’re almost family now.
So, as you can see, RBA seminar advising is awesome.
PS Pre-frosh, applicants, I work for you! Tell me what you want to know, I’ll blog about it. Divine Blogging Inspiration at 5am sucks, because I should be in bed. Every single post I’ve written so far (yes! all three!) I completed at about 5am on a weekend morning before going to sleep. Not surprisingly, the [email protected]@! comments have been from IP addresses in India and Singapore, where 5am Eastern time is not an obscene hour to be checking the blogs. So, this post, though completed at 6am, will be published at 5am Mumbai time (7:30pm Eastern), to give the North Americans a fair chance at being first!!!!!!!