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Topics for Advisors & Advisees

This list was generated by Marlboro’s First Two Years Committee.

First Year

One of the most important things an advisor can do for you as an incoming student is make you aware of how Marlboro works—in the general, liberal-arts sense, and also in a more practical way: who you can go to if you need help doing research, or what to do if you’re sick. Your advisor will let you know from the start what will be expected of you as a Marlboro student (requirements, academic integrity, etc.), as well as what resources are available—both on and off campus. You will be encouraged to become involved in all facets of life at Marlboro. Some specific things your advisor might do in discussions:

  • Take the time to get to know you, and let you know what you can expect from them.
  • Encourage community participation: explain Town Meeting and other campus activities and traditions.
  • Encourage you to spend time off campus. Let you know what resources are available outside of Marlboro: in Brattleboro, at surrounding colleges, CIEL, internships, etc.
  • Explain Marlboro’s academic structure. Urge you to study broadly, but also to take notice of what interests you most.
  • Explain the World Studies Program, and if you are interested introduce you to the the director of world studies.
  • Discuss Marlboro’s requirements and expectations: Clear Writing (and explain the Writers’ Block), the Sophomore Review, academic integrity, etc.
  • Have a discussion about Plan. Give you a basic timeline of Plan-related deadlines and requirements, and answer any questions you have at this stage.
  • Point you toward relevant resources: online college handbooks and descriptions of areas of study, as well as the Total Health Center, Writers’ Block, the dean of students, the director of academic support services, the director of academic advising and the library.

First Year, 2nd Semester

As a second-semester first year student, you will be fairly well acquainted with how Marlboro works. Your advisor may base your discussions around how your first semester went, and what you need to start thinking about in the immediate future. Some suggested topics:

  • The results of your first semester: course results, Clear Writing results and campus involvement. Advice and guidance where it seems you need it most.
  • Begin talking seriously with your advisor about the Sophomore Review. Learn about its purpose and process, and refer to the Handbook description.
  • In Dedicated Hour, you might have upper-class students talk to you about their first year at Marlboro: their choices, struggles and successes.
  • Go over the basics again: degree field requirements, important deadlines, studying broadly, etc. All this will keep you planning ahead.

Sophomore 1

As a first-semester sophomore, you will be beginning to think concretely about Plan, but you’ll also still be studying broadly and figuring out exactly what it is you want to do. Some things to talk about in Dedicated Hour and advising meetings:

  • The Clear Writing Requirement. Your advisor will stress its importance and usefulness to those who haven’t passed yet, and encourage you to take more writing courses as preparation for Plan work. You are also encouraged to visit the Writers’ Block and to meet with the director of academic support services.
  • Continue discussing the process and purpose behind the Sophomore Reviewand Preliminary Plan Application. You are encouraged to begin working early on both of these.
  • Explore the meaning of broad study, and discuss how course choices reflect deeper interests.
  • As Plan ideas emerge, you’ll be advised to think broadly about their subject: at this stage, focus on the idea of ‘degree field’ over that of ‘Plan project.’
  • You will be urged to attend Plan workshops and to talk with your faculty and upper-class students about what to expect in the coming semesters.

Sophomore 2

At this stage you will be starting to narrow your focus, and it will be helpful for you to put your interests down on paper and begin thinking about how you’ll continue to work on what you find meaningful. This is where Plan starts to be at the forefront of your academic choices, so you will be guided accordingly. Some things you’ll want to discuss with your advisor:

  • Important paperwork: Sophomore Review and Preliminary Plan Application. Students should begin drafting each of these documents early in the semester. Learn the due dates well in advance, and let them know who else they can talk to if they need help.
  • Plan sponsors: As you work on your Preliminary Plan Application, your advisor can help you make connections with appropriate faculty members. Study with faculty who may later become Plan sponsors.
  • After everyone involved has read the written statement portion of your Sophomore Review, you will convene a meeting with your advisor and potential Plan sponsor(s).
  • Find out how Plan tutorials work: structure, expectations, credit load, how to set a tutorial up, etc.
  • Explore options for study abroad where appropriate, either during the summer or during the semester. Also take on summer reading and research in preparation for your junior year.

Junior 1

As a junior you need to begin doing Plan-specific research and writing, but you also have to keep up with your regular coursework. You are budgeting your academic time differently than in previous years. Advisors will emphasize this balance of tutorials and continued regular coursework, while also becoming familiar with your specific Plan interests and concerns. Some ways to do this:

  • Begin the semester by learning what you will need to do in the next two years; get a basic Plan timeline. Pin down a degree field(s) and seek guidance in finding appropriate resources.
  • WSP students will be working on their internship plans and must be aware of how time-sensitive the process is.
  • You will be encouraged to begin or continue gathering research materials well in advance of your senior year—and to begin Plan-related writing.

Junior 2

At this point, you will be making sure you’ve got everything in place for your final year. You’ll want details on all the intricacies of Plan: paperwork, percentages, etc., so that you can move ahead confidently. Some ways to facilitate this process:

  • Seek help in completing your Final Plan Application.
  • Make sure, if you are a WSP student, you have finalized the details of your internship.
  • Discuss the structure of Plan in detail: components, independent projects, percentages and orals.
  • Learn about the grading system for seniors.

Senior 1

As a first-semester senior you will have, ideally, begun work on your Plan projects, and will be in the midst of in-depth research. You’re figuring out how to budget your time between courses/tutorials, research and writing, and are likely feeling overwhelmed. Things to take into consideration with your advisor:

  • Again, acquire detailed explanations of the different components of Plan. This will help to demystify the process, and make you a little less anxious.
  • Find out how different components will be evaluated: discuss oral exams and outside examiners.
  • Set anticipated Plan percentages—there’s still time to adjust them next semester.
  • Work with your advisor to set appropriate and feasible objectives and deadlines. This will make the process seem less overwhelming.
  • Discuss post-Marlboro goals and plans.
  • Meet with the director of academic support services to discuss Plan-related time management and long-range planning strategies.

Senior 2

As a senior 2, you will likely know what’s expected of you in terms of Plan percentages and paperwork, and you’ve got a lot of momentum where your project is concerned. You’ll want feedback on your writing (and other work), as well as advice on more obscure Plan requirements—like their abstract, copy responsibilities and mail dates.

  • Touch base with your advisor at least every week for writing advice, research questions, etc.
  • Participate in Plan-writing seminars, which provide writing advice and support.
  • Give a Plan presentation during Dedicated Hour.
  • Finalize Plan percentages by midterm.
  • After your advisor chooses an outside examiner for you, you should find out what to expect during orals and how to prepare for them.
  • Learn about all the loose ends you might need to take care of: writing an abstract, giving the library and the registrar copies of your Plan, letters of recommendation, etc. Work on these details early in the semester, so it won’t become a source of stress just as you are about to mail.


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)