This past week, Sept. 21 to 26, the College and the advising committee worked together to host the first Advising Week. This aimed to host events that guide second year students in particular to making choices concerning majors and study abroad options.
“Second year asks you to make some big decisions,” said Joyce Stern, Dean for Academic Success and Academic Advising. “Students start to question what they are doing with their Grinnell degree. It begs big questions.”
Stern worked alongside Associate Dean Maria Tapias in planning Advising Week. The program held events such as tutorial reunions, an alumni panel and a majors fair.
The advising committee hoped to reinforce awareness of the support system for second year students. First year offers built-in advising opportunities like New Student Orientation and Tutorial, but second year requires some proactivity in seeking out support.
One of the goals for the programming was to ease student pressure surrounding choosing a major, which was in part done through the department fair.
“We had a lot of different departments opening up their doors and hosting,” Tapias said. “Some [focused] on undergrad research or what you do with major, others on research in the field and the value of off campus study to this major. They had to decide: what would we want potential majors to know about us?”
The department fair featured programs from 28 of the College’s majors. Each hosted a 45-50 minute talk on their department and what majors would need to know when they make this choice.
While there was an emphasis on departments and majors, Advising Week also aimed to let students know that a student’s decided major is not there to limit them in any way. A major will determine some of the students’ classes but is not meant to not limit the potential of the degree.
“I think we often think once you pick your major you are wedded to that discipline or you’ve made a decision you cannot change down the road, so we specifically selected alumni to visit … that are doing things unrelated to that major,” Tapias said. “Although it is a big decision, ultimately what you will take with you … are skills that are relevant to any career trajectory.”
The alumni she refers to are Alvin Irby ’07 and Rebecca Dworkin ’06, who received degrees in Education and Sociology, and Religious Studies, respectively. As Tapias noted, both are working in fields outside their majors – Ibry is a kindergarten teacher running a non-profit and does stand-up comedy, while Dworkin is a Certified Nurse-Midwife.
The program’s future has not yet been determined, but both Tapias and Stern would like to see something like it continue on in support of the second-years.
“In second year there is this radical change where you are not the new kids on the block anymore,” Tapias said. “My hope is to create something similar for next year, because these are things you want students to be reflecting about.”