English professor: Avoid shopping blindly, change freshmen advising schedule

To the Editor:

Kanya Balakrishna’s piece on freshman advising (“Problems arise with advising for freshmen,” 9/28) helps us distinguish two problems: who is doing the advising and when freshmen meet their advisors. There is something absurd about a system in which the majority of freshmen first meet their advisers the night before classes begin, after they have taken placement exams and registered for some courses. Many freshmen do not have a substantive discussion with their advisers until several days into the semester, when they have already been attending some courses and not attending others that good advising might have directed them to attend from the start of the term. I believe that the only reason Yale has perpetuated this folly is some vestigial sense of the sanctity of Labor Day and that it is time to let student need trump either the holiday itself or the tradition that the faculty are not on board before it.

For years, I have met my advisees on Labor Day rather than Tuesday night, and among this small number, I think the statistic is that over half were headed to register for the wrong English class the following day — wrong in terms of their own interests or preparedness as revealed in a conversation. On Tuesday night, after the electronic sign-up for sections of English courses has taken place, I met this year many more students who could have been helped had they come to see me the day before. My sense is that the problems I witness are minor when compared to students making unadvised decisions about languages and sciences.

Even a minor adjustment to advising night — moving it back from Tuesday to Monday — would be a major boon to the advising system. It could also significantly diminish the chaos of shopping period from which both students and faculty suffer.

Leslie Brisman

September 28

The writer is the Karl Young Professor of English at Yale.

Scene reviewer makes false claim, not likely to rip out his own teeth

To the Edithor:

Your weviewer, Henry Connelly, thaid that he woulth wather pull outh hish theeth than wathch “Sydney White.” Thish ith pathenthly falth. From experienth, this ith noth a good choith.


David Price’08 and Michael Friedman’08

September 28

The writers are seniors in Branford College.