Friday, November 20, 2009


It's registration time at the university again, so (some) of my advisees are coming to see me to get scheduled. Actually they pretty much have to come see me to get scheduled, since I'm the only one with their PIN that allows them to register. The school does that to force the students to actually get advising before they register for classes to help cut down on the students doing foolish things. This doesn't keep the students from doing foolish things, of course, but it might help.

Mostly I advise computer science majors, which I understand because we are a mixed department and most of our majors are CS. Most of the "math" majors are actually secondary education majors, and are advised in the education department. Although I still don't understand why I keep hearing about the few math majors we do have being advised by CS professors. But at least I get an opportunity to see the trajectory of the typical CS major. Or at least, the typical declared CS majors. They really don't have that many more majors than we do, they just get lots of people who think they want to be CS majors. I think some of the students think, "Hey, I love computer games; I'll major in computer science!" For many of those, things don't go so well. I often find myself advising a major who is repeating the introductory programming course and the introductory math class multiple times. Eventually, they usually give up and switch majors. Or fail out.

Some students are not so good at getting around to getting registration done. I had one who stopped by my office suddenly on Monday right before I was about to go to class and want to get his PIN so he could register. (Registration started some time earlier.) I spoke to the student briefly about the fact that he was failing his intro programming class and had withdrawn from his math class (see? I wasn't kidding). He indicated he wanted to change majors. So I took a minute to talk to another professor about a suitable major closer to what he wanted. Then he told me he actually wants to transfer to some other school, so he just wants to take some classes for spring and transfer credits. I asked where he was transferring. He didn't know. I told him I had to go to class, but I could talk to him tomorrow morning. He was worried all the classes would fill up and needed his PIN right away. I wasn't giving in on that, but offered to meet him after my classes finished that night at 8. He decided he could wait 'til tomorrow morning after all. But he didn't actually show up. I didn't see him again until Thursday. Then I could finally sit down and talk to him about what he was going to do, and make some semi-recommendations, which I know he isn't going to take. I suspect he's not going to end up transferring, changing majors, or doing anything else before next spring's registration, when I fully expect him to come rushing into my office towards the end of registration again, telling me he needs his PIN right away.

On the bright side, I do actually have a computer science major graduating this semester. That one, by the way, came to see me early in the registration period, always had a plan, passed his classes, and took what little advice I had the opportunity to give him. I wonder if there's any correlation.

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