Goals of Spring-term First-Year Advising Meetings and Four Things to Keep in Mind

Goals of Spring-term First-Year Advising Meetings

Four Things to Keep in Mind

Goals of Spring-term First-Year Advising Meetings

As in the fall add/drop period, you are encouraged to reach out to your advisees, organize your meetings with them, and set a time and location to meet during the early registration period at the end of the fall term and, again, during the spring add/drop period.

Harrumph, you say, students should instead take responsibility for contacting you? Hear, hear! However, experience shows that, when left to their own devices, first-years will wait until the eleventh hour to contact their advisers, ensuring that little actual advising takes place and causing a scramble for everyone involved.

First-year advisers’ meetings with their advisees are usually one-on-one, but it should be noted that a few advisers schedule meetings with two or more students at a time, especially when the students are roommates or share academic interests — with reports of satisfaction on both sides. 

When meeting with your advisees, you might consider asking them the kinds of questions they should be asking themselves as they build a spring-term schedule:

  • what is their assessment of the fall term?
  • what are their goals for the spring term?
  • where do their extracurricular activities fit in with their academic or post-Yale-related plans?
  • will they continue exploring fields offered at Yale to which they weren’t exposed before?

You may see possibilities and talking points that haven’t occurred to your advisees. Suggest that the entire first year is a year of adjustment to a new place and exploration of new academic and extracurricular interests; this can be particularly reassuring to students who were disappointed with some aspects of their first semester at Yale.

Some additional conversation starters, beyond those featured above, are listed on the Conversation Starters (Spring) webpage.  

A focus of the late fall and spring-term meetings should be on strengthening the connections you during the fall. They give you an opportunity to get to know your advisees better, and for them to get to know you better.  Building relationships is a key skill and often crucial to academic success.

Students will have the opportunity to discuss specific course questions with directors of undergraduate studies during their office hours, and you should encourage them to direct specific questions to the relevant departmental representative. Many students are lax to take advantage of the services DUSes offer, and you can help them overcome that reticence.  At the same time, there may be students who expect you to give them precise advice about such issues as the requirements for a particular major, etc. You should feel free to defer these questions if you are not qualified to answer them. The first-years will have been told by the deans of their residential colleges that your role is that of knowledgeable adult who cares about their transition to college and academic career, and who will offer non-technical advice. Answers to the detailed questions can come from others, such as a dean or DUS.

Of course, some students will come to this meeting with a list of courses that they want to explore. This might provide a good opportunity to use whatever they bring you as a way to think about the composition of their spring term schedule in more general terms. Both early registration period and add/drop period are times for exploration—but the unfettered ability to explore can be overwhelming, even for second-semester first-years. To the degree that you can help them narrow down their choices, you can help them use their course selection periods more effectively. 

Some general things to look out for:

  • Ask them how they came up with that particular group of courses to explore. This may lead to an interesting conversation about what they are looking for—or whether there is something they are overlooking.
  • Are they simply repeating the same kind of schedule they took in high school or last semester? Are they embracing or ignoring the range of options that the Yale curriculum makes available to them? If the latter, you can help them to think about other possibilities that might be of interest?
  • If you don’t see a small class on their schedule, you might encourage them to consider taking one.
  • Remind your advisees that, even though add/drop periods offers them the opportunity to adjust their course schedules, they will need (1) to keep up in the classes they preregistered for so that they don’t find themselves behind if they decide to retain those courses; and (2) to keep up with any courses they plan to add to their course schedules.

Four Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Catching up, looking forward Your advisees will benefit from discussing their thoughts with you, even as they will also have in-depth, course-specific conversations with their residential college deans and first-year counselors (“FroCos”), and with directors of undergraduate studies, faculty members, and other advisers. Some topics you might want to bring up  include:
    1. A recap of, and their reflections on, the fall term
    2. How they plan to spend, or have spent, their winter break
    3. Their residential college, and their housing/roommate situation
    4. Their summer plans, including study abroad, internships, fellowships, or jobs (deadlines fall earlier and earlier in the year and now is not too soon to begin this conversation).  You may also want to refer your advisees to Yale Summer Session, the Office of Career Strategies, the Fellowship Office, or the Center for International and Professional Experience in general
  2. Fall-term grades It’s useful to check your advisees’ fall term grades via Student Profile to inform any conversations about lessons learned from the fall and plans for the spring. 
    1. You might open your spring-term-related conversations by asking your advisees’ how they feel they did last term (keeping in mind that, for some students, a C in a challenging course is as welcome as an A in others).
    2. To get an idea of the evolution of your first-year advisees’ thinking about academics, you might also ask them which course(s) they looked forward to last term and which course(s) didn’t turn out as expected (and why).
    3. Requirement for Academic Good Standing and Promotion to Sophomore Status: 
      1. at the end of the second term, a student must have earned at least eight (8) course credits.
  3. Language requirement 
    1. Credit is awarded for L1 courses, even if students don’t enroll in L2 (prior to fall 2018, students were required to complete both L1 + L2  before credit was awarded for L1).
  4. Course sequences
    1. Many courses, especially in STEM fields, are sequential in nature. Check with your advisees to make sure they are following the correct sequence. Refer any questions to the DUS of the relevant department.