Guidelines for Sophomore Faculty Advising
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Table of Contents
- General Goals of Sophomore Advising
- What Sophomores Expect from Their Advisers, including
- Thinking about the Term at Hand, Thinking about the Next Three Years
- Drawing Up Tentative Schedules
- Mid-term and End-of-term Meetings
- Extracurricular Activities
- Summer Plans
- Helpful Details to Remember throughout the Year
- Useful links, including the Sophomore Website and its “For Advisers” Section
- Sources of Information
- Thoughts from Sophomores
General Goals of Sophomore Advising
The Yale College Dean’s Office is grateful to you for having volunteered to advise sophomores about academics and other matters.
Unlike freshman advisers, who are both faculty and staff members and may come from both Yale College and the professional schools, all sophomore advisers are faculty members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
In many respects, the sophomore year continues the themes of freshman year. It is still a time to explore different subjects as students complete the distributional requirements for the sophomore year and earn the minimum of sixteen course credits required for promotion to junior standing. It is also a time when sophomores think seriously about what their major will be.
Some sophomores have already selected a major, particularly if they are in the sciences, mathematics, or engineering; some have one or two possible majors in mind; many are very uncertain about their choice of major and worry about making a decision. A typical sophomore wavers between indecision and decision.
A sophomore’s choice of major should conform to his or her intellectual interests and preferences. These often become clear only after the students have looked into a variety of subjects and received advice from various members of the campus community. This is where you come in. As a sophomore adviser, you can help your advisees by guiding them in a discussion of the subjects they studied during their freshman year or plan to study during their sophomore year. Along with leading your advisees in a moment of reflection, such a discussion will also give you a sense of what engages your advisees’ interest, what might make good use of their talents, and what satisfies them on an intellectual level.
We also encourage sophomores to discuss and analyze their academic programs as a whole with their sophomore adviser in order to ensure that their education has shape and coherence. We remind students that, toward the end of the sophomore year, they will be asked to choose a faculty member — perhaps their sophomore adviser — with whom to compile a tentative program of study for their junior and senior years, including courses both inside and outside the major.
How can you become the best possible sophomore adviser? We encourage you to explore the links and sections below; to stay abreast of developments in your department and across campus; to familiarize yourself with the location of non-departmental resources (for jobs, internships, and study abroad, for example), so you’ll know where to refer your advisees for information outside your area of expertise; to peruse the Sophomore Website (especially the “For Advisers” section); to read the occasional emails from the Director of Academic Advising and Special Programs; and to consider sophomore advising an important part of your broader commitment to teaching and learning.
In addition, you will find several sections below to help you with sophomore advising.
Please send any comments or questions to Risa Sodi, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Academic Advising and Special Programs, or call her at 432-8427.
In 2010, the Sophomore Class Council interviewed sophomores about the role of the sophomore faculty adviser and prepared the following list of important points, which are as valid today as they were then.
Thinking about the Term at Hand, Thinking about the Next Three Years
The role of the adviser is not just to look over a student’s schedule to make sure the course load looks appropriate and balanced. An adviser can play an important role in helping students think about how their courses for the term fit into their overall academic and career goals. Students also benefit from having their advisers tell them that it’s fine to take a chance or two on courses.
Drawing Up Tentative Schedules
One of the most helpful things an adviser can do is ask their sophomore advisees to draw up a tentative schedule of courses for the rest of their time at Yale. Students who are considering several majors may need to make several proposed schedules.
Mid-term and End-of-term Meetings
Although it may seem unnecessary to mention this, sophomore advisers can make a difference just by making sure their students know that they are available for discussion throughout the term. A one-line e-mail checking in on each advisee at midterm will matter greatly to students. An end-of-term discussion about what went right or wrong allows (requires) the students reflect on the year just gone by and prepare for the year ahead. By reflecting together with their advisers, advisees get the benefit of your considerable expertise and counsel to guide them.
Find out about your advisees’ extracurricular activities; don’t neglect to ask about them. What are they involved in? What do they spend most of their time doing? (If you’re unsure about how to approach non-academic topics, consult the conversation starters on the Sophomore Website.)
Ask your students about their summer plans. This isn’t idle chit-chat: students increasingly use their summers for jobs, internships, study abroad, and other experiences to help refine their thoughts about potential majors and post-graduation plans. A sophomore adviser can help them think through their possibilities and ideas by asking questions such as
- “What do you want to get out of your summer experience?”
- “How does this relate to your major and career goals?”
- “Have you thought about funding?”
- “Have you contacted Office of Career Strategies or the Center for International and Professional Experience?”
The best advisers are accessible and take the initiative to contact their advisees.
Helpful Details to Remember throughout the Year
- Advising dates and deadlines
- AYA database (find out the fields alumni majored in and the careers they have undertaken since graduation)
- Change your major
- Declare a major
- Information about choosing a major
- Majors in Yale College
- Majors or concentrations that require an application, review or audition
- Rules about two majors
- Sophomore Website (courses and majors, getting advice, distributional requirements, for advisers, tutoring, calendar, and more)
There are various sources of information about majors and major requirements.
- Primarily geared towards freshmen but also open to sophomores, the Academic Fair takes place on the Tuesday afternoon before the first day of fall-semester classes. Nearly all undergraduate majors and programs are represented by the DUS or other knowledgeable representatives who are available to answer questions about courses, prerequisites, and major requirements. Information is posted online and is distributed to freshmen with orientation materials.
- Directors of Undergraduate Studies (DUSes) or their designated representatives regularly advise sophomores about the programs and majors in their departments.
- Yale College Programs of Study itself has information about all majors, their prerequisites, and their requirements.
- Departmental publications. Most departments maintain websites, and some publish brochures with information about their majors. Departmental websites often have photos and short biographies of their faculty, with current research interests.
- Departmental info sessions. A number of departmental meetings take place during the days leading up to the beginning of fall-term classes. Meetings for prospective majors and interested students continue throughout the year and are posted on the Sophomore Website’s Calendar and Departmental Info Sessions, Meetings and Placement page.
- The online Yale Facebook includes students’ majors and can be sorted by major and college. Yale’s Facebook requires a netID login.
- Residential college deans and masters can give you advice from their experience with Yale College and with students, as can your instructors.
“My adviser talks to me like a person. When I had her as a professor, she talked to me as a student, but now she talks to me as a person.”
“She is always very accessible. If I e-mail her, I get a response right away, and she’ll meet with me when I need her to.”
“Sophomore year…should be a time to explore different fields.”
“I went to her with ideas, and she helped me narrow my class list, and then I went back later with my schedule. […] She advised me about individual professors and classes.”
“The DUSes are the best resources about majors. Meet with them.”
“She makes herself available. We’ll talk about things outside school.”
“My adviser insisted on discussing my schedule with me before he would sign it.”
“I thought I had my major decided when I began sophomore year, but after a few more courses, I changed my mind. I just went back to majoring in one of my other interests, even though I had taken only one course in it.”
“Get to know upperclassmen in your major or possible major. They can be an amazing resource.”
“I did not know what my major would be until after spring term started. I took Psychology 110 because I heard it was a good course, and the next thing I knew I found my major—psychology. I was stressed some until then, but for some of us it takes a bit longer to find a major.”