10 o’clock list: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Breaking Up With Your First-Year Advisor

This post was authored by one of our new writers, Shayne Wagner ’18.

It’s about halfway through the semester and, speaking as a first year, I know there are a few students out there who don’t think their relationship with their first academic advisor is allowing them to be the best version of themselves. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult thing to do. But not unfortunately you have me, someone who has neither switched advisors nor broken up with someone before, to guide you.

  1. Take a second to think.  It’s important to get a lil’ reflective here. Take some time to make sure this is really what you want to do because chances are you won’t be getting back together with them. What have they offered to you as a student navigating the overwhelming world of undergraduate studies? Are they letting you grow? Do they listen to your wants and needs? Be prepared that they might not heal from this as quickly as you will. They may not want to “remain friends”, not everyone can be as emotionally mature as you are.
  2. Be tasteful. Your #1 priority is to be respectful when approaching this delicate confrontation. They’re human beings too, they have feelings. So maybe don’t spring this on them in the middle of discussing your courses for next semester or while they’re meeting with another student, and definitely don’t give it a whirl when they’re walking their dog down Middle Path. That’s just weird and inconvenient.
  3. Whip out the classic “It’s Not You, It’s Me”. According to every rom-com ever, this seems to work (or it’s transparency unintentionally offends and therefore backfires – we’ll see). Maybe you want to dabble in some classes outside of your advisor’s department. Your interests are probably developing; they evolve with you throughout the years. And it’s not your fault! Everyone is constantly preaching that college is the time to explore who you are and maybe experiment a little bit here and there. You can’t be held down! You’re youthful and unpredictable!  Whatever the reason may be the fact of the matter is that you just aren’t a good fit anymore.
  4. Don’t be too harsh. Unless it actually is your advisor who is the problem, maybe the last piece of advice doesn’t exactly apply to you. But that doesn’t really matter. Pick another excuse and sell it – what they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em, amiright?
  5. Don’t overthink it. There’s a thin line between taking precautions and making this a bigger deal than it needs to be. Think of how free you’ll feel afterwards. Just remember you’re not the first one to do this to them, and you won’t be the last. It’s going to be okay. Promise.

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