Advisory wastes time: Program impacts productivity


Isaac Pasley

Cartoon by Kelly Brucks
Picture this: You’re in a classroom, but the teacher’s not giving a lesson, so you have an hour and a half to do assignments. This doesn’t sound that bad on the surface, but halfway through the period, you’re finished with all your work. You feel really hungry and want to grab a snack from the vending machine, and could use the restroom as well.
However, the teacher doesn’t let you leave the room without permission, and she wants you back within 10 minutes, so you just spend the final 45 minutes sitting around and staring at the clock, waiting for the bell to finally release you. Such is the ordeal all RBHS sophomores suffer, as they drift through the dull, featureless void known as sophomore advisory.
Currently, juniors and seniors, as long as they maintain good grades, have access to a special privilege known as Alternating Unassigned Time. “Sophomore advisory,” on the other hand, takes place in a specific classroom. Because sophomores are new to RBHS, sophomore advisory is meant as a way for students to get accustomed to their new surroundings. However, after the first few days, advisory often just involves sitting around anticipating the next class. In general, sophomores would benefit greatly by having AUT in place of advisory, just like their fellow juniors and seniors.
By its very nature, sophomore advisory goes against the ideals of RBHS. What makes RBHS the school that it is is its emphasis of the concept of “freedom with responsibility.”
Administrators believe within certain bounds, sophomores should be able to retain some degree of independence. Being free of the teachers’ restraints for at least some of the time is crucial for students because it gives them a preview about what life in college and afterwards will be like. AUT is an important part of the RBHS experience because it teaches students the vital life skill of making important decisions by themselves, something which can’t be learned in the classroom alone. Students will be better prepared for adult life if they are on their own as soon as possible.
RBHS teaches students the concept of freedom with responsibility from day one. How, then, does it make sense to give sophomores the idea that they’re not responsible enough to go off on their own? When students are not receiving class instruction or doing schoolwork, they should not have to ask permission to walk around the building by themselves.
Most people who defend sophomore advisory say it helps incoming sophomores learn the ropes and get acquainted because they are new to school. In reality, things taper down a bit after the first two or three days, and the overwhelming majority of time after is spent sitting in the classroom doing homework, and after that’s done, it’s mostly just sitting around and waiting, often with one’s head on his or her desk. Because of this, getting rid of advisory wouldn’t cause much of a loss especially since there is a system already in place for communicating with students on their AUTs.
Presently, if juniors and seniors on their AUTs have a special event to attend, such as a presentation in the Performing Arts Center, they will be notified of this over the intercom system. If there’s any special activity that sophomores need to do, the office could just make an announcement. On the other hand, for the majority of time when there’s nothing else for the students in advisory to do, they would be better off being left to their own devices instead of sitting and staring cooped up in a classroom.
In fact, sophomores once did have AUT until advisory came about as a way to help welcome new students to RBHS. Introductions can only go on so long, however, and advisory mostly becomes a time when students all too often just sit around with nothing to do. It is little more than a way of belittling students, basically saying they’re not responsible just because they’re new. This is a problem because it goes directly against the idea of freedom with responsibility, which is key to RBHS’s mission, and as such, the school impresses it upon students right from the get-go. As a result, advisory sends mixed messages and leaves students confused. And if students are receiving mixed messages, how will they be able to believe what other people are saying? The truth is, sophomores do not have to be “left out” of certain things, such as AUT, simply because they’re younger.
Giving sophomores AUT instead of forcing them to sit through the 95 minute slog of advisory every other day would help considerably. The more opportunities students get during their three-year stay at RBHS to demonstrate they can make wise choices on their own, the better they will function once they get through college and out into the real world of adult life.
 By Isaac Pasley