During the majority of his undergraduate education, Manhattanville College’s academic advisor, Michael Klein, felt as though he was a lost soul. When first starting his college education, he had almost no idea what his major would
be or what his interests even were. He eventually conclud- ed that he would do best as a journalism major.
“I picked that major because I took a journalism class in high school and it was kind of cool and I liked it. So, my sophomore year they were like, ‘You have to have a major, you can’t just be undeclared forever’… So, it just seemed like something that worked,” he said.
Klein believes that one of the many reasons he chose to go into academic advising is because his academic advisor was the farthest thing from helpful. He claims the moment he knew he wanted to become an academic advisor, is when his internship at The New Jersey Patch took a turn for the worst.
“One time they wanted us to travel down somewhere towards the beach. They wanted us up at eight in the morning to leave and it would be an hour trip down and an hour trip back. I remember getting yelled at by my boss because was like, ‘No, I can’t do that. I have class and work and other classes. I can’t just take an entire day.’ He was like, ‘Well just skip those classes.’ So, I got into a big argument with him. That was the point where I think I was like, ‘I’m never going to ever do this. This is not how I’m going to spend my life, getting yelled at by some old dude, doing something I don’t even want to do,” said Klein.
Past failures have never allowed Klein to lose hope on finding his true calling in life. Klein’s upbringing in small town, Atco, N.J., has shown him the true importance of being surrounded by loved ones and positivity. As a teenager, Klein moved to New Jersey and resided in the town of Montclair. He then chose to attend Montclair State University. However, the disorganization and confusion between the Montclair State faculty members is what first sparked his hidden passion for helping others.
“Even when I did have an academic advisor, I remember coming in and telling him, even my senior year, ‘I really don’t like this major and I’m just trying to get through it and just please let’s just get this over with.’ I wasn’t happy to see him, he wasn’t happy to see me. It was just like a struggle to get through it,” he said.
Considering Klein was not getting the time and attention he needed from faculty members, he chose to give the help he desired to his fellow peers. Klein’s willingness to assist others, caused him to create a private Facebook page including peers, both younger and older than himself. This Facebook page was not only lead by Klein, but his friends joined to help incoming students as well. This page gave students a chance to pose questions to Klein and his friends in regards to Montclair State’s academics and social life on campus because he believed Montclair’s faculty did not do a sufficient job of answering specific questions.
By the time Klein realized he no longer wanted to major in journalism, it was too late to switch majors because he had only six classes left to complete his major. However, he chose to continue his graduate education at Montclair. He was then asked to become an advisor there. He remained at Montclair State University for a total of seven years because he wanted to make other people’s experiences there better than his own. Klein said, “I wanted to be an advocate for each individual student, I didn’t want the same experience I had, for them.”
The poor academic advising that Klein received throughout his college career inspired him to be a “big brother” figure to current college students at Manhattanville College. He believes that the best advice he ever received was from his grandmother, a cancer survivor, who once told him, “Some things in life you really just can’t control, whatever happens take it day by day and always try to find the positive part in it. See what you can make of it, salvage it and see how you can make it better.”
Klein now looks forward to going to his academic advising of office, rather than avoid- ing it. According to co-worker, Joi Sampson, “Michael Klein is a young professional and the nice thing about that is, he’s willing to grow and he’s not set in his ways. Manhattanville needs people that are changing with the times because we are advancing as a school technologically so I think he really fits that bill.”