Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Office Space

I had an "interesting" expereience yesterday. I was conscripted into service as an academic advisor. This is usually one of the "normal duties" of a college professor. The difference in this case was that I was not advising philosophy majors (we have none), nor was I advising a small group of students who I will continue to see throughout their college days. No I was advising dozens of students, mostly those on academic probation. The process itself was one of the blind leading the blind. I had no idea what I was telling them. But by the end of the day I advised them with a great deal of confidence in my voice, if not in my heart. It was an interesting exposure to the seedy underbelly of academics, the bureaucracy. I wonder if part of the exercise was merely to expose some faculty to that. It is scary. There are redundancies upon redundancies and the who process was insulting to advisor and advisee alike. My "favorite" part was the failing and atiquated computers we used to process the students. They kept shutting dow at random times. No wonder registration is such a chore here. I have new respect for the poor souls in academic advising.
Much of what I did was navigate and enter data in the archaic system. It was needlessly complex and cryptic. It is a wonder that such systems still exist in any format. We could not print schedules, or even alter them significantly, but we could read them, hand copy notes and get the students to alter their records. It reminded me a little of my first jobs out fo college, they were all versions of data entry some more complex than others. I do not miss those days.


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