The Advantages and Adversities of the Advisory Period

Mariam Khan '24

In addition to Ridge’s new approach to student attendance this year, the Ridge faculty have earnestly worked on the addition of the ‘Advisory’ period. Created to foster meaningful bonds between students and their peers and teachers, Advisory is a weekly 50-minute session that students attend after 4th period on Mondays and Thursdays. 


This small-group session aims to provide a channel for students to navigate difficult circumstances amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement released to inform students about the Advisory period, the RHS faculty and administration asserts that they hope “to reshape culture with a sense of community and healthy interdependence.” Through initiating the cause, the faculty at RHS hopes to enhance the social and emotional growth of students, while also providing a wonderful way for connections to form outside of the classroom.


After its debut at the start of hybrid learning this October, students have started to become acquainted with the Advisory period. In some cases, students are acclimating to informative slideshows with embedded questions, while others are learning to participate and engage in discussion-based sessions; regardless of the format, the general reaction from the student body has been positive. 


Zayna Kutty ’24, a freshman at RHS, voiced her opinion on Advisory and its impact on the school community. Kutty commends the faculty for their initiative in creating a friendlier learning environment for students, especially during the current times. When asked for her take on the small-group approach to relationship-building, she admits that she enjoys the close-knit nature of the weekly sessions. She appreciates how class size is halved for the sake of Advisory, ensuring that the same group of 10-12 students convene each week.


“The Advisory period is quite comfortable with a small group of kids… If the initiative [had] been started last year, without the Cohort system, it would prove to be very uncomfortable. Since the class splits into two different sessions on two separate days, there leaves plenty of time for each person to contribute to the discussions,” Kutty remarks.


Another individual who requested to remain anonymous echoed a similar opinion when she cheerfully claimed that she “enjoys partaking in the smaller group sessions because they allow people to have a more enjoyable and intellectual conversation, while also allowing for the formation of close-knit bonds with peers.” She believes that Advisory periods prove to be worthwhile, especially the “hands-on” sessions. For her, the mini-debates on ‘feeling hot versus feeling cold,’ which taught the importance of respectfully disagreeing, stuck out as a memorable discussion. 


While both interviewees share a commonality in thoroughly enjoying the discussion-based sessions, each offered insight on areas they believe still have room for improvement. Kutty believes that the initiative could benefit from having future sessions feel less like a chore. For example, sessions solely based on elementary guiding questions from a slideshow did not particularly captivate her interest. The other student argued that the students tuning in virtually are not given enough opportunity to participate. As always, the division of attention between virtual and in-person learners remains a major struggle for teachers during instructional times. In providing feedback, she also expressed that the shorter Advisory periods were more favorable because they tended to be more meaningful and memorable for students.


The addition of the Advisory period has warranted a mixed response from students. Overall, with the exception of certain aspects that can still benefit from improvement, many agree that its addition aimed at tackling a wide array of issues facing students has had a positive impact on the culture and wellbeing of Ridge students.