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If freshman year is spent in transition and exploration, sophomore year is when many students begin to settle down and find their place at Brown — a process that involves making lots of decisions. Students must choose and declare their concentrations, pick which groups and activities they want to pursue, and consider options like internships, research, study abroad and semesters off.

During this crucial time, informed advice can be hard to find. Sophomores are no longer part of the Meiklejohn peer advising program and they do not yet have concentration advisors. Depending on their relationships with faculty advisors from freshman year, they may not be receiving any formal advice at all.

Fortunately, the University has just launched a new advising program for second-year students. The Matched Advising Program for Sophomores, which is currently in its pilot semester, pairs sophomores with seniors who share similar interests and goals. This initiative aims to allow sophomores to benefit from the wisdom of seniors who have already traveled similar paths at Brown. It also fills a major void in Brown's advising regimen — peer advising during sophomore year.

The University knows that sophomores are often under-advised and has shown a commitment to improvement by establishing the Randall Advisors, a group of faculty members who work exclusively with sophomores. The Dean of the College also sends an electronic handbook entitled "Planning Your Sophomore Year" to all members of the sophomore class. These are a good start, but they are no substitute for the opportunity to interact one-on-one with a specially selected, like-minded senior. This is why we hope and believe MAPS will soon become as much a staple of advising at Brown as the Meiklejohn program or CAP courses.

Over winter break, the program solicited applications from potential advisers and advisees, and the response was impressive for a brand-new program. The Herald reported last week that 230 sophomores and 130 seniors applied to participate. But only 40 sophomore-senior pairs were ultimately matched. Molly Jacobson '10, who initially proposed the program and now coordinates it, told the editorial page board that she wanted the program to stay small and intimate in its first semester and noted that it was intended for sophomores who need it and not the whole class.

While we recognize the value of a small group to test the program out, we want to encourage administrators to expand MAPS and to allow more sophomores to benefit. Since the majority of advising takes place on a one-on-one basis and not in a large group, the program should be able to grow fairly smoothly.

We also want to urge the Dean of the College and the Curricular Resource Center to continue to support MAPS. Applications will likely increase next semester as the program becomes better-known on campus, and we hope that it will have the funding to continue. Since the program is student-run and depends on the volunteer work of seniors, the costs will be low and the benefit to students will be quite high.

The MAPS program shows that while advising may not yet be Brown's greatest strength, the student body certainly is. The University should continue to support student initiatives like this one, which have great potential to improve academic life at Brown.

Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board. Send comments to



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