Harvard Extension School Student Forum

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How do you feel about not having concentration/FoS-specific advisors?

For instance, if a student is studying Philosophy, they can have an advisor whose background could be Biology and could also have other advisees who have other polarizing concentrations/FoS.

I'm personally pursuing an ALB in Computer Science but my advisor's background is Music. I don't think it's a good fit. I may have specific questions about the industry, organizations, or certain professors or research efforts in the university but I believe I'm missing out on those opportunities and connections if my background doesn't match my advisor's.

I'm not saying I'm looking for an advisor who personally studied CS when they were in college but at least someone who works directly with the CS department. Someone who's updated on the CS specialties, national scholarships and internships, graduate school guidance, and can provide more than just picking classes and other administrative responsibilities.

Comments

  • CatsCats Posts: 16
    edited January 2016
    You may want to schedule an appointment with Linda Spencer, Director of Career Advising and Programming for Harvard Extension School, and ask these specific questions.
  • tokomontokomon Posts: 30
    Cats said:

    You may want to schedule an appointment with Linda Spencer, Director of Career Advising and Programming for Harvard Extension School, and ask these specific questions.

    What would she be able to help with? When I was assigned my advisor, it was based on my last name, not my concentration.
  • This shift to "professional" advisors, which I don't agree with, is unfortunately happening across the country. There is a movement to put all academic advising and related work in the hands of full-time administrative employees and take it away from the faculty. While this takes a substantial load off the faculty calendar (I've done student advising as a professor in the past) it also removes very important insights from the process. If HES is moving in this direction they're following a national trend, but it's one that I think is bad for students.
  • tokomon said:

    I may have specific questions about the industry, organizations, or certain professors or research efforts in the university but I believe I'm missing out on those opportunities and connections if my background doesn't match my advisor's.

    This is where Linda Spencer would come in, because these are more 'career' oriented considerations. The Office of Career Services has a wealth of resources, many of which are available to degree candidates. You can set up an in-person or Skype appointment with Linda and she'll help you with many of these sorts of issues, or at least point you in the right direction. You can set up informational interviews with people in the field, attend workshops and info sessions, and some career fairs/networking events. Obviously if you're a distance student, some of these will be more pertinent than others, but OCS is place to look for these kind of things. I've already met with Linda, she's great.
  • tokomontokomon Posts: 30
    edited January 2016
    khallett said:

    tokomon said:

    I may have specific questions about the industry, organizations, or certain professors or research efforts in the university but I believe I'm missing out on those opportunities and connections if my background doesn't match my advisor's.

    This is where Linda Spencer would come in, because these are more 'career' oriented considerations. The Office of Career Services has a wealth of resources, many of which are available to degree candidates. You can set up an in-person or Skype appointment with Linda and she'll help you with many of these sorts of issues, or at least point you in the right direction. You can set up informational interviews with people in the field, attend workshops and info sessions, and some career fairs/networking events. Obviously if you're a distance student, some of these will be more pertinent than others, but OCS is place to look for these kind of things. I've already met with Linda, she's great.
    I had spoken with her about certain programs but she is not as well-versed as someone who actually works in my industry, like a veteran professor. For example, I asked her a question about an annual national fellowship for undergrads that's quite popular in my field and she was unfamiliar with it. She pointed me in the right direction but I essentially ended up at square one again.

    Conversely, a friend of mine from high school attends another university as a traditional student. Thanks to his connected advisor (who's also his professor and taught after years of working for a well-known Fortune 500 Company that recruits on their campus), he was able to receive a prestigious fellowship because his advisor (an alumna recipient of the same fellowship, twice) wrote a glowing letter of recommendation in addition to helping him with his application. She herself is a professor in a different department than his major but frequently works with his department.

    So although she is not a professor of his major's department, she's still an advisor that works closely with it and has actual industry experience. She's specialized whereas HES and Ms. Spencer are generalized. I'm sure Ms. Spender is wonderful and I definitely praise OCS but I believe more industry-specific advisors are a better fit than someone who's not.
  • GratGrat Posts: 274
    Perhaps this is where you could develop a relationship with a professor to achieve the same result?
  • I recently spoke with Susan Albrigo. She told me that when I declare a field of study, I would choose a faculty advisor in my field.
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