I wrote in a previous post that students should be prepared to create their own board of advisers in college because college is never a one-stop advising experience. But, as one of my best friends said to me today, that is an incredibly daunting task. How are college students supposed to expand their board of advisers beyond the ones the college gives them? Is it really up to them? It is so incredibly intimidating to approach a graduate student, much less a professor!
Luckily, many colleges hold events in the form of teas, lunches, dinners or academic talks that invite faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates alike to participate. These are important programs because they give you a chance to interact with instructors in a casual setting, thus facilitating relationship-building with people who dedicate their lives to fields that may interest you in your four years on campus and beyond.
Whether you are a high school student exploring prospective colleges or a current college student trying to figure this out, here are some key questions to ask deans, RA’s, tour guides, professors, and other students:
- Do the residential communities hold events (dinners, teas, lunches, talks, brown bags, round tables, films, readings, coffee houses) that give students a chance to interact with faculty and graduate students somewhere more casual than a classroom?
- Which academic departments have journals, events, seminars, conferences, and other programs that engage undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty alike?
- How many classes do first-years and sophomores take with fewer than 20 students?
- Are there junior and senior classes for majors/concentrators that give students a chance to interact with faculty regularly on a one-on-one basis?
From the answers, you will learn a lot about the opportunities you will have to get to know people who have dedicated their lives to fields that may interest you.
Students who get to know faculty have a significantly better experience in college than those who don’t.
Be one of them.