A few years ago, 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 now as they were then.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Mid-term and End-of-term Meetings
Although it may seem unnecessary to mention this, 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.
4. Extracurricular Activities
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 in the College Advisers section of this website. While designed for conversations with first-year students, most are relevant to conversations with sophomores, too.
5. Summer Plans
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 college adviser can help them think through their possibilities and ideas by asking questions such as
You might also want to refer them to the Resources on this website’s homepage (block in upper right corner).
6. Accessibility and Initiative The most effective advisers are accessible and take the initiative to contact their advisees.