Advising at Columbia is the ultimate 'mixed bag'. Today there are two major sources of advising. First is the Center for Student Advising, which provides general academic advising as well as pre-professional advising, and a few other academic programs. Second is major advising, which is administered through your academic department.
A tour guide once described advising at Columbia as a "sink or swim" proposition. When asked by a parent to elaborate on the comment after the tour, the guide responded "Well, the only way advising could be worse were if it were just 'sink.'"
History of academic advising
Prior to Dean Austin Quigley's appointment in 1995, students at Columbia College had individual faculty advisers. The system was incredibly dysfunctional, with faculty members lacking the expertise necessary to aiding students in navigating Columbia's bureaucratic labyrinth. Also, there may have been issues of general disinterest. Quigley scrapped the system and brought and moved to create a dedicated advising system.
Until the fall of 1998, central advising was administered though a house-system, where deans were assigned to each dormitory. In September of 1998, Columbia created the Division of Student Affairs and with it the Class Center system, where teams of deans were created to advise each class.
In 2002, Student Affairs decided that the assembly line approach to advising wasn't working and announced that the class centers would be merged to create two two-year centers, creating FYSAAC (pronounced fye-sack) in 2002, and JSAC (pronounced j-sack) in 2003.
In 2007, Student Affairs decided that this didn't make much sense either and finally followed through to the logical conclusion and created the Center for Student Advising, the first four-year advising center for undergraduates.
- A New Role: Chris Colombo, Dean of Students, Columbia Record, September 11, 1998
- Class Deans system refined, Columbia College Today, September 1999
- Student Affairs Reorganizes Advising, Columbia Spectator, September 12, 2002
- Jr/Sr Center Provides Continuity in Advising, Columbia Spectator, Septemeber 11, 2003
- Student Affairs Unveils Reforms for Advising, Columbia Spectator, April 24, 2007