General Goals of Sophomore Advising

  • To give students an understanding of what constitutes a liberal arts education at Yale and help them move toward a major
  • To convey to sophomores an immediate sense that Yale faculty and staff members are accessible and take a personal interest in them
  • To help students appreciate the need to strike a balance between academic commitments and extra-curricular activities

The Yale College Dean’s Office is grateful to you for having volunteered to advise sophomores about academics and other matters.

In many respects, the sophomore year continues the themes of the first 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 prospective 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 student has looked into a variety of subjects and received advice from various members of the campus community.

This is where you come in.  As a college adviser to sophomores, you can help your advisees by guiding them in a discussion of the subjects they studied during their first 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 and holistically as people.

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 consult their DUS (if they’ve already selected a major) or the DUS or their most likely major in order to construct a tentative program of study for their junior and senior years, including courses both inside and outside the major.

The mission statement of Yale College, especially the language in bold, provides one possible roadmap for the work of a sophomore adviser:

“The mission of Yale College is to seek exceptionally promising students of all backgrounds from across the nation and around the world and to educate them, through mental discipline and social experience, to develop their intellectual, moral, civic, and creative capacities to the fullest. The aim of this education is the cultivation of citizens with a rich awareness of our heritage to lead and serve in every sphere of human activity.

In other words, advisers to sophomores serve to challenge students to see the big picture, to reflect on their goals for a Yale College education, to think holistically about their time before and after graduation, and to help students to develop their many capabilities to the fullest.  

How can you be the best possible adviser?  We encourage you to explore the links and sections in the “For Advisers” section of this website; to stay abreast of developments in your department and across campus; to read the advising-related emails you receive from your residential college dean; to familiarize yourself with non-departmental resources (see, for example, the Yale offices in charge of career opportunities, internships, and study abroad listed on the homepage of this website), so you’ll know where to refer your advisees for information outside your area of expertise; and to consider advising sophomores an important part of your broader commitment to teaching or to your work unit.