Thoughts from Sophomores about Advising

What Sophomores Expect from Their Advisers

Thoughts from Sophomores

What sophomores expect from their advisers

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.

A summary is below; details follow.

  1. Thinking about the term at hand; thinking about the next two years
  2. Drawing up tentative schedules
  3. Mid-term and end-of-term meetings
  4. Discussing extra-curricular activities
  5. Discussing summer plans
  6. Accessibility and initiative
1. Thinking about the Term at Hand, Thinking about the Next Two 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.

Thoughts from Sophomores

“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.”