At Brown, students design their own course of study to reflect their personal interests and goal. Our advising structures support students throughout this academic journey. Before arriving on campus, every student is assigned two advisors--an academic advisor and a student peer advisor--who help them navigate Brown's open curriculum. Students meet with their advisors at key times during each academic year to discuss their academic choices and to plan for subsequent terms.
Before the semester begins, new students meet with their academic and student peer advisors to discuss their academic interests and to select courses for the first semester. Scheduled meetings throughout the first year help students build strong relationships with their advisors. Students' success in the first year depends on their active participation in the advising process. We encourage students to express their thoughts and preferences candidly, while remaining open to different points of view on their academic choices.
First-year students' academic experiences are supported by a residential system that facilitates their transition to campus. Students live in communities of 40 to 80 first-year students, along with several peer counselors who offer on-the-ground information about everything from classes to campus resources to local bike paths.
In their second year at Brown, students make key decisions about the focus of their studies. Specifically, they declare an area of concentration--or major--by the middle of the fourth semester. Advising meetings naturally include discussion about course selection in relation to possible concentrations. Students are also encouraged to expand their planning to include opportunities at and beyond Brown, such as study abroad in the junior year, summer internships, and independent research with faculty.
Because the sophomore year is a pivotal one, sophomores are required to meet with their advisors during pre-registration periods for their fourth and fifth semesters of study. Sophomores are encouraged to stay with their first-year advisors so that they can benefit from the continuity and depth of a two-year advising relationship.
In their third year, students become members of a social and academic community in their chosen concentration. Advising conversations focus on concentration objectives as well as experiences beyond the classroom that complement students' studies. Many juniors complete internships, international projects, and independent research. Juniors are also eligible to apply for nationally-competitive fellowships as well as a number of fellowship awards internal to Brown.
Juniors are often pre-occupied with the question of what they will do after college. Their advisors, other faculty, and the academic deans can be helpful sources of information on such questions. Students can also seek guidance from the advisors in CareerLab, who can help students develop their own plan for exploring the professions.
A student's last year at Brown should provide a meaningful culmination of their college education. Capstone experiences or senior-year projects in the concentration help students integrate and deepen their learning. These experiences are supervised by faculty and lead students toward the kind of intellectual engagement that faculty experience all the time.
As seniors look toward Commencement and the end of their college careers, they naturally turn reflective, asking themselves what their four years at Brown have wrought. What was the most meaningful experience they had with faculty? How did they experience community at Brown? What work was most challenging? Faculty advisors and deans can facilitate meaningful reflection on these and other questions. Family members, too, can provide helpful perspective and support.
This retrospective tendency is coupled with anticipation--perhaps anxiety--about the future. Applications and interviews for fellowships, graduate school, and professional positions can eat up valuable time and tempt students to give their studies short shrift. Advisors and family members can help students stay grounded by accompanying them on this part of their journey.
Additional information about academic advising is available on the Dean of the College website.