The Sophomore Class Council earlier this semester rolled out an initiative whereby sophomores can sign up to have dinner with departmental directors of undergraduate studies, giving students a new opportunity to learn about Yale’s many academic programs.
The dinners are meant to allow small groups of students to gain insight from the DUSes of departments that interest them, according to Yesenia Chavez ’20, president of the SCC. Chavez added the first dinners took place just before fall break and that the number of attendees per dinner has varied from five students to as many as 20. Chavez hopes that the program will help undecided sophomores choose a major with more confidence and provide other students who are already more sure of their academic path a clearer picture of what junior and senior year will hold.
“For the people that have gone … for the most part it has helped because they’ve been able to ask the DUS, who is very knowledgeable, about major specific questions and been able to figure out what they want to do,” Chavez said.
Sophomores are able to sign up for the dinners via a form sent out by email, according to Chavez. Dinners with different DUSes take place five days a week, Monday through Thursday, she added.
Norma Thompson, director of undergraduate studies for the Humanities Department, said the dinner she hosted on the evening of Oct. 31 was a good experience. Though attendance was “light,” possibly because the event coincided with Halloween, she said she enjoyed speaking with students and sharing information about her department. Several students had questions about the senior essay and the advising process, she noted.
Thompson said she brought along a senior humanities major, who was helpful in answering students’ questions. Other dinners have also featured guests from the graduate and professional schools, including the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health.
Thompson noted that sophomore year is unique in that, while many students have not yet chosen majors, they need to begin thinking about doing so. She said DUSes play an important role in helping students during this process.
“They love the choice [of classes], but most of them express a need for intellectual coherence,” Thompson said of the sophomores she advises.
Chavez says that the idea of hosting DUS dinners was adopted from last year’s SCC and that the SCC has attempted similar initiatives in the past. Chavez added that she has received “no negative feedback” about the dinners.
Jodie Coburn ’20 said that, while she has not been to a dinner with a DUS, she thinks such events would be helpful since it is often hard to get individual meetings with DUSes.
Coburn, an environmental engineering major, said she would like to talk with her DUS about her major and studying abroad.
Brandon Chambers | firstname.lastname@example.org