Students face a number of important decisions during the sophomore year. Many will find the experience uplifting, particularly if they have established a good relationship with their advisors and made use of the many resources available at the college. On the other hand, students who have built only a limited relationship with their advisors and have not explored what Dickinson has to offer may find the sophomore year quite challenging. Without preparation, weighty decisions about the future can be difficult and uncomfortable. (The dreaded “sophomore slump” is often a symptom of such travail.)
To help students prepare for the upcoming year, sophomores will receive a summer message from the advising office that highlights some of the critical decision points which lie ahead. The message contains information about selecting a major, planning for an experience abroad, and looking for internships or summer jobs that relate to potential careers. We recommend that you address these three topics when you meet with your advisees in late September or early October. You may find it worthwhile to encourage your advisees to take an integrated approach to these decisions. A well-chosen study-abroad program, for example, can both advance a student’s progress in the major and generate valuable international connections. In general, many advisors find that encouraging students to think broadly about personal goals, professional aspirations, and civic priorities can be both effective and rewarding. What meaning are your advisees discovering in their experience at Dickinson? What insights have they gained about themselves? What’s next for them?
- Welcome advisees back to school for the fall semester. Let them know that they should be planning to meet with you later in the month to discuss major declaration, plans for going abroad and course selection for the spring semester.
- If students are considering study abroad options and will be asking you for a recommendation, you will find it helpful to obtain both a copy of their current resume (including their co-curricular activities) and a statement explaining (1) why they wish to go abroad, (2) why they have selected a particular program, and (3) what they hope to gain from their experience.
- October is advising month, and your advisees should meet with you to talk about their academic plans (major, study abroad, internships), discuss course selections for the spring semester and get their Alternate PINs. For the truly undecided, this is the opportunity to seek assistance from campus resources about major declaration, including the class dean, the Career Center and department faculty.
- If students are ready to declare a major, remind them to submit the Major Declaration form to the Registrar’s Office prior to Roll Call so they can take advantage of the priority standing accorded to majors.
During your advising meeting you should also review with your advisees the progress they are making (or not making) towards fulfilling graduation requirements. Have they started a language? Have they met any or all Division III requirements? How many PE credits have they completed?
- If any of your advisees receive “U” grades at Roll Call, invite them to make an appointment with you to discuss strategies for improvement. They should also meet with the faculty members who have assigned the “U” grade(s). It is important to remind students—especially those who have a cumulative GPA close to the minimum 1.75 required for First Years—that their cumulative GPA must be a 2.0 or higher by the end of their fall semester to remain in good academic standing.
Late November/Early December
- Let your advisees know that you are available to answer questions or discuss class options during the course adjustment period.
Late January/Early February
- Welcome advisees back. If you have advisees who are still undeclared or are having difficulty making choices, you may wish to invite them to meet with you to continue discussing major options. You can also refer them to the resources on the Academic Advising and Career Center’s web sites.
- Students who are planning to study abroad during the fall semester 2015 will be preparing for a February deadline for submitting recommendations, applications, etc. Set a deadline for requesting recommendations. Also remember that students who are planning on going abroad must have declared a major. Requirements for each program are available in the Center for Global Study and Engagement viewbook and online.
Late February/Early March Advising Period
- Course Request Period for Fall 2015 will be March 23 – 25. Most sophomore students will not need an Alternate PIN to request Fall 2015 courses
- If any of your advisees have not yet declared a major, please remind them that:
- They will not be able to study abroad until they have declared a major
- Their access to Course Adjustment Period will be blocked from July 1st until the appropriate form has been turned in to the Registrar’s Office.