Stand -Up Comedy about Academic Advising?

With our advising period set to open, I want to share a funny bit from This American Life, and remind everyone how meaningful and important academic advising is.

When approaching advising this semester, please remember how much our students have been through, and please also remember that even though it may be our 5th advising meeting of the day (and 553th of our career) it is the first time (for example) our students get to select courses for their sophomore spring. Try to give yourself a little mental space before each meeting to be present to the student across from you, and try to help the student develop a narrative arc for their time at SLU.

By narrative arc, I mean that we can help our students tell the story of how their courses fit together, and how a course that they may not initially seem excited about can help in unexpected ways. SLU has distribution requirements that we may understand as faculty members, but it is worth telling the story of why we have the requirements we do. Finally, it is essential that we help students consider what they can do after graduation, during the summers, and what opportunities are uniquely available to them as St. Lawrence students (our study abroad programs, the LINC program, SLU Connect programs, and much else). All these opportunities may be obvious to us as faculty, but we need to tell a story to our students that connects with–and is exciting to–them.

This is a lot of work, so I do think some levity is in order. I wouldn’t believe it could be funny until I heard it, but mother Zarna Garg was able to create a great funny stand-up set based mostly off of the experience of her daughter choosing courses at Stanford University. It is worth a listen.

Finally, because I am referencing This American Life (TAL), I find this to be an excellent classroom resource. If you want to add some variety to your syllabi, assigning podcasts is a nice way to supplement course readings. TAL is one of the rare outlets that does education reporting well, and their episodes with Vivian Paley; on integration; and on charter schools are exceptionally good. Dig around their archives to see if something might work for your courses.