The current freshman and sophomore advising systems will be revamped in the months leading up to the opening of the two new residential colleges, although specific details have yet to be announced.
Under the current systems, freshmen are assigned academic advisors through their residential colleges and sophomores choose their own advisors, typically based on their areas of interest or relationships with particular professors. With the addition of the two colleges and the upcoming expansion of the freshman class by 200 students, the Committee on Advising, Placement & Enrollment is focused on restructuring the advising program to accommodate more students, said committee Chair Ian Quinn. The committee is still in the process of creating an implementation plan, which it hopes to complete by the end of the fall semester to enact the new system by fall 2017, Quinn said.
“Our committee is only in its second year as a standing committee in Yale College, and so far we have been focused only on making sure Yale’s academic advising systems are prepared for the expansion,” Quinn said. “We’re confident that the advising system as a whole will improve thanks to the opportunity for reflection that the expansion has provided.”
In 2015, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway split the Committee on Teaching, Learning and Advising into two separate committees: one focused on teaching and learning and the other focused on advising and enrollment. The Committee on Advising, Placement & Enrollment is comprised of four faculty members, four administrators and two undergraduate students.
The committee presented a set of recommendations to Holloway this past spring and discussed it with different heads of colleges, Quinn said.
“We have identified some ways to increase the pool of potential freshman and sophomore advisors,” Quinn said. “We have reaffirmed that pre-major advising should be broad, holistic and longitudinal — not focused on the transaction of schedule signing — and we are working on ways to build on these current strengths of the advising system.”
Traditionally, each college’s head and dean match incoming students with members of the college fellowship who volunteer to be freshman advisors. If this system were to remain unchanged through the expansion, Quinn said, colleges would have to either increase the load of existing advisors or expand the pool of volunteer advisors.
Sophomores in engineering, mathematics and natural sciences are required to pick their respective department’s director of undergraduate studies as advisors, who can help them better navigate the prerequisites and plan their course loads, explained applied mathematics DUS Daniel Spielman ’92.
Spielman added that the expansion in the student body will likely not catch his department off guard, because the number of computer science and applied math majors have already been growing rapidly for the past five years.
“It’s clear we need to draft some more people into this advising effort in applied math,” Spielman said. “It’s also clear if we’re seeing growth like that, the new residential colleges are just a drop in the bucket.”
He is not aware of potential changes to the advising systems, he said.
Deputy Dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science Vincent Wilczynski said he too has not heard anything about reshaping the system. Still, he cited the engineering school’s system of having faculty advisors in addition to the DUS in departments with larger enrollments as a potential model for popular majors that might face problems of overcrowding.
Quinn said the committee also expects to implement other changes, such as enhanced advising programs for first-generation college students, athletes, prospective STEM majors, international students and other students with specialized advising needs.
The committee will also likely study shopping period and the process by which students select courses, Quinn said. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate’s March 2016 report on Yale College’s expansion recommended this course of action, and Quinn said his committee would be responsible for conducting a study in course enrollment.
“We will need to be sure that we are keeping up with these changes, and with the across-the-board increases in enrollments that will happen between now and the fall of 2020, when Yale College completes the process of expansion,” Quinn said.