Advertising professor Max Killian woke up on Monday morning with a bit of extra gusto. He walked to work blithely, whistling all the way, waving hello to random people on the sidewalk. Today is the day that Killian, however briefly, becomes relevant outside of the classroom.
“All week, students have no choice but to talk to me,” Killian said.
Professors all across campus share Killian’s eager anticipation for advising week, the five day long period where every student on campus is required to meet with his or her academic adviser. For most advisers, it is the only time that students ever interact outside of class.
“I keep telling all my students that they can come visit me whenever they want, but nobody ever does,” economics professor Tara Medinburg said. “Advising week is the only break I get from talking to the wall all day. This is pretty much my Christmas.”
The faculty’s excitement is matched in equal measure with dread from most students. Sophomore Deb Flenderson, an accounting major, says that the last people she wants to see on her time away from class are more professors.
“It’s not that I don’t like my adviser; I do,” Flenderson said. “But I have to spend 75 agonizing minutes with this person in Business Law two times a week. I’m really not interested in his personal life, including his lawnmower problems.”
Other professors go beyond small talk and use the opportunity to engage students in meaningful, deep life conversations. This serves a dual purpose; it gives professors a window into students’ lives, and it makes students want to leave.
“I usually don’t let people leave my office until they tell me, at least, what the ten-year plan is,” Killian said. “Forget graduation. I want to know where tomorrow’s Marquette graduates are going to live, how many kids they want and their stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other things.”
“Most times I don’t actually get to talk with my students, so I need to cram four months’ worth of social interaction into 15 minutes.”