Introducing the Sophomore Success Dinner Series
September 24, 2018 — The Georgetown College Dean’s Office has implemented a new program to help guide students through the difficult questions that arise during sophomore year.
The Sophomore Success Dinner Series brings together a small group of College alumni to share experiences with and give advice to a group of 30 current sophomores.
The program is the brainchild of Senior Associate Dean Thom Chiarolanzio, who noted that few academic institutions run programs that specifically target sophomores — even though sophomore year commonly features major decisions like academic majors, study abroad programs, and internship applications.
“There are a lot of big decisions that students have to make as sophomores — arguably more important decisions than the ones they make as first-years,” Chiarolanzio said. “So I started thinking about how we could help them through that process.”
Chiarolanzio sees a guidance program as especially important for students in Georgetown College, who have a wider breadth of options available — and a less explicitly pre-professional track — than students in Georgetown’s other undergraduate schools.
“Because the College has so many different academic paths, picking a major can be an intimidating process,” Chiarolanzio said. “We’d like to help students find a subject they’re passionate about.”
The program is intentionally structured as a series of intimate dinners with Georgetown College alumni, rather than lectures, or one-on-one meetings. Chiarolanzio believes that the informal, small group setting will help facilitate honest discussions across a variety of topics.
“It’s just a more comfortable setting,” Chiarolanzio said. “We want the students to hear from recent College graduates who will share their sophomore year decisions which then allows for open and honest conversation with current students.”
Mayte Alonso (C’20), who participated in the Sophomore Success pilot program last fall, saw the dinner as a chance to get advice on choosing a major from people who had been in the same position only a few years earlier.
“One of the biggest takeaways was that it is OK to be a bit confused,” Alonso said. “Sophomore year is a difficult year mainly because it’s the year that most students feel the pressure of choosing, and sticking to, an academic track. The Sophomore Success Series reassured me that it’s OK to not be completely sure.”
Orunima Chakraborti (C’20) appreciated the range of alumni perspectives the dinner offered.
“You just never know what you might hear during the discussion that will make you rethink some of your plans or consider new ones,” Chakraborti said. “Even people who feel like they have everything all planned out — just spend a few hours at one of these dinners, eating some good food and listening to others’ stories. You never know what will pique your interest.”
Chiarolanzio sees the Sophomore Success Dinner Series as a critical facet of the College’s student programming for years to come.
“We want sophomores to know they have people to talk to about the big decisions they’re making,” he said. “Who better than alumni who went through the same process just a few years earlier?”
Article by Patrick Curran. Video by Kuna Malik Hamad.