University News

Program planned to advise sophomores

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, December 3, 2009

A newly approved advising program will be piloted next semester, pairing 30 sophomores with 30 senior peer advisors for one-on-one mentoring.

The senior mentors will also run four panels next semester for the entire sophomore class, said Molly Jacobson ’10, a co-coordinator for general outreach at the Curricular Resource Center who will help coordinate the program, known as the Sophomore Matched Advising Program.

These panels will focus on areas of concern to sophomores, like getting to know faculty members, she added.

The pilot program is mostly focused on demonstrating that “there is a need, a true need, for increased sophomore advising at Brown,” Jacobson said.

The matched advising program, or “SMAP,” will be run by student coordinators at the CRC and the first-year and sophomore deans. It represents the latest of several efforts to improve sophomore advising, Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron wrote in an e-mail.

Strengthening advising was a key recommendation of the Task Force on Undergraduate Education, which released its report in September 2008. Since then, sophomore advising has been significantly expanded, Bergeron wrote.

The current sophomore class is the first to be required to have faculty advisers, and each sophomore received an electronic handbook on “Planning Your Sophomore Year” on a free flash drive from the Dean of the College’s office in September. Randall Advisers, faculty members who are trained to advise sophomores, hold weekly office hours in the Advising Central space in J. Walter Wilson.

“The peer advisers will supplement the advising provided by regular sophomore advisers in ways that (are) analogous to the Randall program,” Bergeron wrote.

If the pilot program receives positive feedback, it will be continued and potentially expanded, Jacobson said.

“One of the strengths of the program right now as we envision it is the intimate nature of the program,” she said. “Ideally, it might be a bit bigger, but for now we’re hoping to keep it small.”

In selecting sophomores to participate, the coordinators will look for applicants who are “worried” and could benefit from the advising relationship, Jacobson said. “We’re really conscious of the fact that some sophomores have better advising right now than others,” she said, adding that organizers are also focused on finding academically curious students who are “good at communicating their needs.”

SMAP plans to collaborate with the Randall Advising program and Departmental Undergraduate Groups, Jacobson added. While a partnership with the Meiklejohn Advising Program might be considered in the future, Jacobson said Meiklejohns were “kind of expanded to the brink right now.”

The Dean of the College’s office will notify all sophomores and seniors about the program next week, and applications will be available online around that time, Jacobson said.