Goals of Spring-term Sophomore Advising

As in the fall, you are encouraged to your sophomore advisees, organize your meetings with them, and set the time and location. Harumph, you say again: surely now, after three terms of enrollment, students will take responsibility for contacting you? One may agree that that is highly desirable, but one also despairs that is likely. And, when left to their own devices, students will wait until the last minute to contact their sophomore advisers, ensuring that little actual advising takes place and causing snafus all around.

Sophomore advising meetings are usually one-on-one. It should be noted, however, that some sophomore advisers schedule group meetings, with reports of high satisfaction on both sides, especially when all of their advisees plan on the same major.

One focus of your first meeting this term with your advisees should be their tentative ideas for a major and long-range, post-Yale plans (business, public service, the arts, law, medicine, graduate school, etc.). It’s important to understand that some of them will change course even as second-semester sophomores. 

There are also some overarching goals to keep in mind. Ask your students the kinds of questions they should ask themselves as they build a spring-term course schedule.

  • what worked and didn’t work in past terms?
  • how will they achieve their academic goals for the year?
  • have they determined a major and begun working towards it?
  • is there a secondary field they are considering?
  • are they on track with their distributional requirements?
  • have they considered study abroad in the summer or for a term?

You may see possibilities that have not occur to them. Suggest to them that this new term builds on the three prior terms, but still allows for some change of course; that it contains the possibility of exploring new academic and extracurricular interests, even as they zero in on a major or on career-related activities; and that, by the end of the year or the beginning of the junior year at the very latest, they should have hit on a major field of study. 

As your conversation progresses, you are in a position to direct your advisees towards faculty colleagues, campus centers or research groups, and campus resource offices that will help them fulfill and expand their goals for their various pursuits.

Of course, some students will come to your advising meetings with a list of courses that they have already selected. This still provides a good opportunity to use whatever they bring you as a way of thinking in broader terms about the composition of their spring-term schedules

Some general things to look out for:

  • Ask them how they came up with that particular group of courses. 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 previous terms? If so, 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 one.
  • If they are prospective STEM majors, are they tracking their requirements accurately?

At the end of your  meeting with your advisees, let them know that you will be meeting with them in the future for follow-up meetings (see Meeting Your Sophomore Advisees).

Lastly, keep in mind that sophomores need to have accrued a minimum of sixteen course credits for promotion to junior standing.