Sophomore Summit Seeks to Orient Class of 2013
By June Pan, Managing News Editor
The Dean of Students Office hosted the College’s first-ever Sophomore Summit on Tuesday, Jan. 25 in Lewis Sebring Commons. Featuring a joint student-faculty panel followed by small-group discussions with professors of various departments, the Summit aimed to provide a forum for discussion and to offer guidance to students experiencing the unique challenges of sophomore year.

The initiative began with Neha Wadia ’13, who found herself grappling with the challenges of declaring a major as she entered her sophomore year. Together with Maggie Huang ’13, Wadia approached the administration with the idea for an event to orient sophomores during an often bewildering time, as they face decisions such as declaring one’s major(s), deciding whether to study abroad and finding internship opportunities.

Dean of Students Allen Hart and Associate Dean of Students Allyson Moore soon picked up on the idea. The project later expanded to include other members of the administration, including Assistant Deans of Students Karen Lee and Hannah Fatemi.

The two students’ ambitious idea became a reality this Tuesday evening. Dean Hart and Wadia opened the event with a few remarks to welcome the attendees, who had filled every last seat in Lewis Sebring. Huang then moderated a panel discussion featuring Professor Rick Griffiths, Professor Hilary Moss, Nicole Panico ’11 and Ashley McCall ’12.

The panel fielded questions such as: How should I approach the process of selecting a major/double major? How do I assess where my talents lie? How can I make the most of my Amherst experience?

Each panelist gave his own unique take on the issues, but a general consensus emerged that students should not pursue the dubious prestige of double or even triple majors at the expense of their passions and interests.

“Follow your heart,” said Professor Griffiths. Professor Moss agreed that college should be a “selfish time,” in this sense.

Small-group discussions with faculty members followed the panel. Students had an opportunity to sit down with professors of various departments and discuss academics, majoring, and other questions on their minds. The departments represented at this discussion included Black Studies, Economics, English, History, Women’s and Gender Studies, Classics, German, Political Science, Psychology and Chemistry.

“This is very exciting,” said Wadia, who was pleased with the turn-out at the event. “I think there are a lot of sophomores on campus who are completely lost. I was one of them.”

“These students identified the things that they were struggling with,” said Dean Moore, referring to Wadia and Huang. “And as you can see from the high turn-out tonight, a large number of sophomores have similar needs.”

Dean Moore was also pleased with faculty participation, both in the number of professors who came to offer their advice and the wide range of disciplines represented at the Summit. She was optimistic that the Sophomore Summit would become an annual event.

Wadia acknowledged that the event had room for improvement. “We want to figure out how to make this better,” she said. One suggestion was to move the event to the beginning of the academic year, rather than having it in January.

At the end of the evening, feedback from student attendees was overwhelmingly positive.

“We hope we’ve accomplished what we set out to accomplish,” said Wadia.

Issue 12, Submitted 2011-01-26 03:49:07