To help sophomores get over the notorious “sophomore slump,” choose majors and find summer internships, the Yale College Council is working to create a senior-sophomore peer-advising program.
Annie Shi ’12, leader of the Mental Health project group for the YCC, said the new “Residential College Counselors” would be like “hands-off Freshman Counselors.” Seniors drawn from the same applicant pool as FroCos would live in the colleges and advise sophomores on general academic and social questions. But five sophomores interviewed said they think the new resource might overlap too much with advising resources that are already available to be of unique use.
“This would be someone [sophomores] can go to with questions on very basic issues, like how to get into seminars and things like that,” Shi said.
Shi said the counselors would likely hold “open room hours” for their advisees. YCC members are still brainstorming ways to encourage seniors to apply for the positions, and have discussed an hourly wage for “open room” shifts as well as perks like first pick in the college room draw. Sophomore counselors would not be paid as much as FroCos, she said.
Yale administrators have been receptive to the idea of sophomore advising, she said, but before the YCC can move forward, they need to find someone to head the program in the way Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry is in charge of the FroCos. Assistant Dean of Yale College and Dean of Freshman Affairs George Levesque has expressed interest in sophomore counseling in the past, Shi added.
Levesque could not be reached for comment.
YCC President Jeff Gordon ’12 said the program is important because while freshmen are busy transitioning to college life, juniors head campus organizations and undertake major coursework and seniors apply to graduate schools and jobs, sophomores can at times feel adrift and neglected.
“The problems of choosing a major and figuring out summer internships, among others, rear their heads exactly as students leave the comforts of the freshman counselor system,” Gordon said.
Omar Njie ’13, president of the Sophomore Class Council, is working with the YCC on the project, and said he sees a need for additional mental health resources for sophomores due to the stress and depression that often accompany the “sophomore slump.”
The SCC is in the process of creating a sophomore class survey to gauge students’ awareness of available mental health resources, as well as interest in a Residential College Counselor program. But all five sophomores interviewed said they did not think they would have a use for the counselor program.
“I do feel comfortable going to my dean or my [faculty] advisor when I need help,” said Dilan Gomih ’13.
Students also said they know older students, and can use them as resources.
Tantum Collins ’13 said peer input is valuable when it comes to academic questions, summer internships and other issues, and the program could be useful to some, but he personally would not go to a sophomore counselor.
Shi said the YCC originally thought of the counselors as liaisons between sophomores and Mental Health Services, but moved away from that idea because they did not want to cause confusion with the “Peer Liaison” program for students in minority groups.
“[The counselors] would not serve any steps in the mental health process, and we don’t expect them to handle any issues a mental health counselor would handle,” she said. “They would know all the resources and let students know about them.”
Sophomore advising resources vary among Yale’s peer institutions. While both Harvard and Princeton have peer-advising programs for freshman, neither offer such resources for sophomores. Brown tested its own sophomore peer advising program last year, pairing 40 selected sophomores with 40 seniors who shared similar interests and who offered advice throughout the year.