Students advise ditching Advisory

Katherine Haden and Lydia Winstead

Sophomore Piper Richardson isn’t impressed with PA’s new system for Advisory. “I have learned nothing, literally nothing,” Richardson explains. “I don’t think I’ve learned anything for social, emotional learning, or wellness at all.” Richardson reflects on the system for Advisory last year, and how its frequency has changed, as well as the content. “Last year, we had it very rarely, but now this year, it’s almost every week.” 

Richardson’s views are shared by many in the PA community. According to VBCPS, the purpose of Advisory is to foster social-emotional learning (SEL), but in a survey conducted by The Page about this year’s Advisory schedule, 68 percent of students either agree or strongly agree that Advisory lessons do not accomplish that goal. Only eight percent of students believe that the bimonthly lessons are a good use of their time. 

“[Advisory] is so wasteful and has not helped me develop any skills or learn anything about myself,” according to sophomore Anna Griesmer. “Instead, I am forced to complete silly little tasks that could be considered busy work.” An anonymous respondent to the survey went deeper, critiquing the lessons themselves: “I do not like the assignments. They are not fun, and the ‘critical thinking’ and ‘bonding’ is far too forced. If the school wants me to build relationships with other students, this will not work.” 

According to students, there are additional problems that should be addressed. Currently, Advisory is every B-day that falls on a Wednesday. If students had the ability to change the current schedule, 28 percent would make lessons less frequent, and 30 percent would get rid of them altogether.  

“One of the big problems is that [Advisory] is such a short block,” explains Junior Daniel Sweeney. “It’s not enough time to give us stuff to retain, or to focus on something. So we have these short assignments that we don’t really retain information from them, we just do them and then…what’s the point?”

For some, the teaching seems to be as big of a problem as the frequency and content of the lessons. One anonymous respondent believes their teacher “feels [Advisory is] more like an obligation than something that she’s invested in.” According to another respondent, “none of my teachers like them, they complain about it, even my own Advisory teacher.” 

However, other respondents feel that the teacher is not the problem, but the students. “My Advisory teacher seems excited about Advisory,” an anonymous respondent claims, “but the students aren’t.” 

Sophomore Philip Dan suggests bringing back the system of Advisory from the previous school year. “Last year, at least we had Advisory with teachers we knew so it was some form of bonding experience,” says Dan. “But now it’s with teachers we don’t know, and it feels like a waste of time.” 

Junior Mary Grace Mathias believes that Advisory could be improved if it focused on more skills for students’ future school careers like “spending time teaching…better study habits…tips to get into college, [and] how to write a college essay.” 

Many students believe that Advisory should focus on life skills to help outside of school and in the real world. “I want a lesson that teaches me things I will need in college or adulthood,” believes Griesmer. “I want to learn how to type, how to write an email, different ways of meditation, different things that would be considered advice and related to social and emotional learning.”