With Advice Like This, Who Needs Advisors?

When I am gathered with my other U of W colleagues and the conversation begins to lag, we often fall back on the old fail-safe competition of Who’s Received the Worst Advice from a U of W Academic Advisor?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there have been times when Academic Advisors have given out absolutely excellent advice and have helped lead many a young mind down appropriate degree paths.

At times, however, our advisors give out suggestions that are either so mind-blowingly obvious or bewilderingly awful that I can’t resist from sharing a few examples here.

Item of Advice #1: If you can read the Course Requirements Sheet, you probably don’t need us

When I first decided to register for an Honours degree, I looked up all the information I could find online. I found a copy of the registration form, which I read thoroughly. I found an online list of requirements, which I also read thoroughly. Then I went to an academic advisor for more information, because I had been told to do so.

When I told my advisor that I wanted more information on the Honours Degree program, she pulled out a piece of paper which turned out to be a hardcopy of the online Degree Requirements I had read myself several times over, and read them to me. Then she admitted that was all the information she had for me. Thanks for the advice!

Item of Advice #2: Leave your Partner, quit your job, drop that pesky BSc and take a degree in Rhetoric!

When my friend Adrian was in his second year at the U of W, he went to an academic advisor. He had good marks in Biology and in English and wanted to see if he could get a degree where he could study both of these subjects.

The advisor suggested he take a degree in Rhetoric. Adrian didn’t see much of a connection between Biology and English and a degree that was neither.

Then the advisor suggested he quit his job and break off the healthy, long-term relationship he had been in for several years, so he could concentrate on his studies.

Luckily, Adrian realized the advice he was being given was utterly absurd. He continued to work at least 15 hours a week, married his girlfriend, and still has a GPA of 4.18.

Of course, this is anecdotal evidence. It is possible that another student has gone to an advisor with a question about BScs and has not come out under the impression that his future wife is in competition with the Rhetoric degree he doesn’t want to have.

However, these and other bizarre tales from the Academic Advising office has made me realize that sometimes the best advice one can hope to get is to not take our academic advisors too seriously.