All of these are current students. They're in an academic major and taking courses. For some, this fall is their first semester in college and others have been here longer.
Before my advisees even show up for the appointment, I pull their folder, print out their transcript of past and current courses, and sit down with their program planning sheet to see what they've had and what they still need to take. Then I write up a list of suggested courses for spring. It's not rocket science. All of the information I have is also available to the students and is on the college website and in the college catalog.
When the advisees show up I ask them "Have you thought about what you want to take next semester?" A small percentage of my advisees say "Yes, here's what I wrote down" and they hand me a sheet with selected courses and it typically matches up very well with what I had written down (in the context of each student's individual preferences / work schedule / family obligations / etc.). We enter the courses into the computer and they're registered in two minutes.
Most of the students, however, are coming in completely unprepared. It hasn't even occurred to them to think about what they might want to take in the following semester. They want me to tell them (even though they know a lot more about their circumstances than I do and have access to the same information I do).
Now I guess I'm odd. When I was in college I remember looking through the college catalog and thinking "Wow, this course looks neat" and "I'd love to take this course." Is that weird?
I also can't count the number of times I've sat with a student and said "You need a social science elective. These are courses in areas like psychology, history, political science, sociology, economics..." The student just sits and stares at me. Then they'll ask "Which is easier?" What do I do with that?
I was a science major in college and loved courses I took just for fun in areas like psychology (Psychology of Consciousness was my favorite), anthropology, and sociology (my favorite there was a topics course on mass movements using Eric Hoffer's The True Believer). I wish I could still be a college student and take interesting courses like that for fun.
Even worse is when a student needs a general elective - in other words any fucking course in the college catalog - and they sit there like a lump with no interest in anything. I actually ask them "What interests you?" and they have no freaking answer. Nothing interests them! I swear to God, I just want to reach into my desk, pull out an application for McDonalds, and pass it over saying "Here, you do NOT belong in college, get the fuck out!"
Yes, I guess I'm a mean SOB and, no, I don't say these things (that's what distinguishes true lunatics from people like me - I don't act on all of my urges and inner thoughts). I gently suggest psychology 101 or some Earth science or biology course for non-science majors or an art or music appreciation course. Then I get quizzed on how good the professor is (like I'd bad mouth a colleague), how many assignments and exams are given (how would I know?), or if they could take it on a very specific day or time (probably not, you take it when it's offered). Often they'll simply choose a course based on the time slot it's offered. That makes me sad.
Nothing's harder for a professor than having a class full of students who simply don't care about anything (including their own education). We live in an awesome, fascinating world - why wouldn't you want to learn more about it? It's completely alien to me.