Advising Questions for Sophomores

These questions are meant to be suggestive, not exhaustive, of the sorts of things you can raise with your advisees.  All of these questions, or variations of them, have been used by advisers over the years to help draw students out and to give them a chance to raise the sorts of issues that you as their adviser can help them address. 

Feel free to use any or all of these questions, or to develop your own. 

  1. Are you making progress in assembling a strong body of work for your writing portfolio?
    • This would be a good time to have advisees re-visit the requirements for the writing portfolio and begin to think about which pieces of writing they have done already that meet the criteria (and which they still need to do).
    • Remind students to save hard copies of papers, lab reports, etc. that they have written; if their computer crashes, they will still need to put together papers for the writing portfolio.
  2. How close are you to making a decision about a major?  Are there other subjects you still need to explore? 
    • Encourage students who are still “at sea” to talk with SDAs and department chairs in the departments that are potential majors for them.  Discuss courses they can take that will help them make a decision. Remind them that in most cases the major they choose will not significantly limit their options after graduation (though in some cases it might require that they take some additional coursework if they haven’t done it at Carleton).
  3. Have you thought about going on an off-campus program?  If so, where and when? 
    • Remind them to consider information meetings for various programs, especially programs that may contribute to their major (or help them choose one).
  4. How are you going to use the upcoming break?  Are there ways to explore an interest that could lead to an internship, job or other opportunity?
  5. Have you found a faculty or staff member who you would identify as a mentor?
    • Invite students to think about those individuals—faculty members, coaches, work supervisors, etc.—who have had an important impact on them and/or who know them well.  These are potential sources for letters of recommendation as well as advice about academic (and perhaps non-academic) matters.   If no names come to mind, encourage them to begin cultivating those relationships with people who could coach and advise them.
  6. Careers, Internships, Fellowships?
    • Encourage students to visit the Career Center to talk about potential career paths, but also to learn more about internship possibilities or career exploration opportunities.  Remind them that there is a great deal of information about fellowships, including advice about how to apply.
  7. Reflection and Integration
    • This is a good time to invite students to consider how their academic, extra-curricular, and work/career goals are coming together.  Some questions to pose include:
    • “Are you seeing a connection between your academic work and your personal life?”
    • “Are you exploring fields of study that align with your interests, abilities and goals?”
    • “What have you been learning—both about the world and about yourself—that could help you choose a path for your life after Carleton?”
    • Remind students to refer to the Advising Handbook online at
    • Here they will find a Course Navigator, decision trees for courses in the sciences, information about testing and placement, off-campus programs, advice regarding pre-professional programs, as well as information about College policies and links to a wide range of resources.


Some students have experienced financial hardship related to text buying and do not necessarily know where to turn. Keep an ear open during advisee meetings to such issues or other signals of marginalization, and encourage students to seek out the various forms of assistance we have available (in particular through financial aid and the Dean of Students).