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Four-Year Advising Guide

During your time at DePauw University, you will have the opportunity to explore new and existing areas of interest, to involve yourself in a concentrated program of study, and to take advantage of a variety of co-curricular activities and organizations. You may be able to experience the world through off-campus programs that provide new perspectives, and you will be encouraged to integrate your education and experiences into a meaningful whole. This document is meant to facilitate productive and progressive conversations with the many advisors (faculty members, staff, and fellow students) that you will have at DePauw.


Year One

Your first year at DePauw is a time to explore your academic interests, your personal values, and your career and life goals. It is a time to begin building a solid foundation of skills, methodologies, and approaches that extend across several intellectual disciplines. This is the purpose of the Distribution Requirements. The liberal-arts approach asks you to build mental bridges between points of information and experience so that your capacity to learn is constantly expanded.

  • What fields are new or interesting to you? What do you want to try? Have you shared your interests with your academic advisor?
  • Do you already have a major, program of study, or career in mind? If so, learn more by consulting your academic advisor and professors in that area. (Some areas, such as the sciences or languages, have tracks for which foundational courses should be taken early on.) Don’t be surprised if you change your mind.
  • Are you communicating regularly and openly with your academic advisor and with your professors?
  • What academic skills and abilities do you want and need to develop? What learning strategies are the most effective for you? How can you improve your learning? Can you turn your weaknesses into strengths?
  • How will you plan for exploration through research, service, Winter Term, and off-campus study? How can you develop foreign-language skills and socio-cultural awareness in preparation for these and other opportunities?
  • What co-curricular activities (athletic, artistic, cultural, intellectual, political, service-oriented, spiritual) reflect your personal interests and values? What events might you attend? How might these activities and events complement your academic plan?
  • How can you manage your classes and other activities without overextending yourself? Are you caring for yourself, creating healthy habits, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced diet?
  • Would you like to be a leader on campus? Towards the end of your first year, consider becoming a student mentor, resident assistant, W, Q, S or departmental tutor, civic intern, or a leader in a student organization.

Year Two

Your second year at DePauw is a time to choose or solidify a major or program of study—something that you are passionate about and that will help you achieve your academic, career, and life goals. Begin to cluster your academic and co-curricular activities. You will develop greater independence by making well-informed decisions on your own, such as planning for off-campus study, research, and/or internships.

  • How have your interests changed or become clearer since your arrival at DePauw? Gather additional information about potential majors or programs of study. Visit the Hubbard Center for Student Engagement in the Union Building. Ask a faculty member you know and trust to serve as your major advisor. If appropriate, identify a pre-professional advisor as well.
  • How can you expand your horizons? Can you use Area Studies courses or the foreign language(s) you have learned to spend time in another country in order to enhance your intercultural and global perspectives? Consider planning a semester off campus in an academic, research, or internship program that enhances your on-campus studies.
  • How might you refine your involvement in co-curricular organizations, focusing on those activities that are the most meaningful and rewarding to you?

Year Three

Your third year at DePauw is a time to delve into your major or program of study. It is also a time to gain international and off-campus experience—to activate the intellectual and practical skills you have developed so far and apply them to real-world challenges. 

  • What additional courses could you take in your major or program of study? What kinds of questions are beginning to interest you in that field? What connections can you draw among courses both in and outside your major or program of study?
  • Have you thought seriously about your post-graduation plans? Have you discussed your ambitions and abilities with faculty members, pre-professional advisors, and Career Services?
  • Do you know how to apply to graduate schools, jobs, and/or other post-graduation opportunities (e.g., Peace Corps, Teach for America, the Fulbright program, international teaching positions)? Now is the time to become familiar with admission requirements and application timelines.
  • Are you preparing to take the standardized tests (GMATGRELSATMCAT) that may be necessary? (Some of these tests are taken in the third year, others in the fourth; check the deadlines.)

Year Four

Your fourth year at DePauw is a time to synthesize the academic and co-curricular experiences. It is the proving ground for your college career on which you can demonstrate—to your professors, your peers, and yourself—what your university education has been about.

  • What courses will complement your major or program of study? What courses are you interested in and do not want to miss?
  • How will you complete a capstone experience such as a senior project, thesis, or seminar?
  • How can you integrate what you have learned in the classroom and in the world? When people ask, “What are you going to do?” can you answer in a way that tells them who you are and what is important to you?
  • Are you talking to faculty members, university staff, peers, and parents/guardians about post-graduation plans?