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 that will allow you to move forward with knowledge, sensitivity, and the necessary skills and confidence to meet the challenges of the future. You have earned the rare opportunity to dedicate four years of your life to learning at a world-class institution. What will you do with that opportunity? Who will you become? What difference will you make in the world?
Four concepts: Exploration, Engagement, Experience, and Integration, are intended to help you organize and make sense of your time at DePauw. These concepts are, however, by no means mutually exclusive; each should extend across all four years—and, indeed, your whole life. Remember, too, that different models will be appropriate for different students, that you are likely to come across bumps in the road, and that it is normal to feel confused and overwhelmed at times. You should not expect to have the answers to all your questions right away. However, you can get a start here: 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.
Your first year at DePauw is a time to explore academic interests, personal values, and 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 Graduation Requirements for graduation (see this Worksheet for planning courses). An investment in versatility and broad-mindedness will always yield dividends no matter the twists and turns of your life and work. Take every class seriously, but also play with the possibilities each brings; take every class as an opportunity to learn new things and make new connections. 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. As an explorer, you cannot know too much, and you must constantly adapt to the discoveries you make. If you cannot even conceive of something, your journey stalls and your world remains small. Begin to make your world bigger and everyone’s world better.
- What fields are new or interesting to you? What do you want to try? Are you ready to take risks, to move outside your comfort zone? Have you shared your interests with your academic advisor?
- Do you already have in mind a major, a program of study, or a particular career? If so, learn more about courses 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, however.
- 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 new things might you try? 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.
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, personal, career, and life goals. Be bold, plan big, and try to identify what you are good at and what you love. It is also a time to become even more proficient with your written, verbal, and analytical skills, employing them across your education and experience. Use what you learn in one class and apply it to other classes and other situations. 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, attend departmental talks and events, and ask faculty members questions about their disciplines. Visit Civic, Global and Professional Opportunities 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?
Your third year at DePauw is a time to delve into your major or program of study, to take courses that push you to grapple with the complexities of your chosen field, and to reflect on and analyze these complexities. 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. You will also use this year to prepare yourself for your final year at DePauw, for a capstone experience in your major or program of study, and for the next, post-college, phase of your life.
- What additional (especially upper-level) courses could you take in your major or program of study? What kinds of questions are beginning to interest you deeply in that field? What kinds of contributions can you see yourself making? 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 dreams, your ambitions, and your abilities with faculty members, pre-professional advisors, or staff members in Civic, Global and Professional Opportunities?
- Can you identify potential graduate programs and scholarships to which you could apply? Now is the time to become familiar with admission requirements and application timelines.
- Are you preparing to take the standardized tests (GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT) that may be necessary? (Some of these tests are taken in the third year, others in the fourth; check the deadlines.)
Your fourth year at DePauw is a time to synthesize the academic and co-curricular experiences of your undergraduate years. 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. It is a time to marry a sense of purpose and a passion for your interests that will fuel your progress beyond the classrooms of DePauw. Your challenges may be the most difficult this year, or they may seem strangely effortless, as confidence in your skills helps you share yourself and your ideas with the world. As you plan your next steps, hang on to the sense of curiosity and the willingness to go beyond borders that the liberal arts encourage (in fact, demand), so that you will never stop exploring, engaging, experiencing, and integrating.
- What courses will complement your major or program of study? What courses are you simply 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, staff, peers, and parents/guardians about your post-graduation plans?
- 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 or other competitive fellowships, international teaching positions)?
- How would you reflect on your four years at DePauw? What have they meant to you? How would you identify who you’ve become? How will you use what you have learned, what you have experienced? Are you proud of your abilities and full of knowledge, but yet aware of how much you still do not understand? How are you ready to be a life-long learner?
- Are you prepared, daring, and skilled enough to pursue what you love?