Saturday, May 26, 2018

Release of Academic Checklist Facilitates the Advisory Process

Justin Conlon ’15

Staff Writer


In order to make the advisory process more effective, Trinity has authored several checklists meant to guide students during each stage of their education.  These checklists are specific to each class and are similar to the checklists given to incoming First-years before June Days. The new checklists have been redesigned to be relevant to students at varying stages in their Trinity careers.

So far, the Ad Hoc Committee on Advising of the Trustee-mandated Academic Retention Working Group has released checklists to advise students when picking their classes for the Spring semester of each year. The checklist points are organized in the form of questions with advice and important dates intermittently placed throughout the list. The advising checklist for First-year students starts with questions designed to get students thinking about their long term path and goals at Trinity. From there it moves to the upcoming semester and more immediate issues like making room for essential 101-level and intro classes. Found further down are prompts aimed at getting students thinking about major requirements, as well as general distribution requirements. There is also some text in italics reminding first years to make sure they are getting enough credits between both semesters.The checklist closes with an open invitation to discuss summer plans with Career Services and with a suggestion to consider going abroad sophomore year, and to contact the Office of International Programs if interested.

The sophomore checklist begins with a reminder about the Quantitative Literacy requirement, which has to be met by the end of sophomore year. It then moves on to reminders about the language requirements. For those sophomores who did not choose to study abroad during that year, it advises that they consider going abroad during their junior year. It also asks them to consider where they would go and why, and how that decision would fit into their greater educational strategy. The bulk of the body of the sophomore advising guide deals with selecting a major. It suggests that students seek help if necessary and also reminds the reader that majors do not necessarily define career possibilities. Continuing on the topic of majors, it urges students to think about ways to expand their educational experience, whether through a double major or through major-related research. Also, it encourages students to start thinking about who they would like to have as an adviser.

Similar to the First-year guide, it ends with discussions of the summer. It advises students to reflect on their activities over the past summer, and possibly build on them, while presenting the opportunity to take on internships, which become available for the first time to sophomores, both during the Spring semester and over the following summer.

Junior year’s advising sheet starts off where sophomore year’s left off by getting right into major requirements. It provides questions that make it easy for students to evaluate where they are in their major in terms of requirements they have met, and those they still have to meet. It also reminds students that they should be considering and pursuing internships related to their major, and if they have not already, they should be considering spending time abroad in an area where their major will be well-integrated. There is a lot more emphasis on studying abroad and summer plans than in either of the previous checklists. This emphasis on things beyond the walls of Trinity culminates in the “Future planning” section, which recommends students polish their resumes and consider doing mock interviews to prepare for post-Trinity life. The shift in tone is very clear from sophomore to junior year’s checklist, which ends with a prompt to check on graduation requirements. 

Senior year’s checklist is visibly shorter than the three that came before it. With only three sections, it asks seniors to check and make sure that their major and general education requirements are all satisfied. The final bullet, similarly to the earlier checklists, is called the “Future planning” section and it asks students to once again update their resumes, meet with Career Services, prepare for graduate entry tests and get recommendations as necessary from faculty members who are familiar with their work. 

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