Major Dilemma?

Posted on: October 13, 2014

Many of you will be spending time with family, friends and relatives over Fall Break and Thanksgiving.  I suspect that some may be dreading being asked, “So, what are you going to major in?”  To be followed in many cases by, “And what are you going to do with that?”  What follows is a bit of thinking and writing I have been doing on the subject of the major that hopefully can provide you with some ammunition with which to answer with confidence!

What follows is much longer than the typical blogpost.  Blogs came into existence long after I became a dean.  Think of this as an ancient form of blogging, and feel free to spend as much or as little time with it as you wish.

Good luck with those inevitable questions, and have a great Thanksgiving!

**The following are the insights of a dean who has advised college students for the past 35 years about the question of advising for the major.

Declaring a major is Continue reading

Get Ready to Study Abroad!

Posted on: October 6, 2014

Hi Sophomores!

Today’s post for you is a joint article, written by Rebecca Avery and Natalia Banfi. Rebecca is the Coordinator of International Academic Programs on campus, and Natalia is the Student Assistant Coordinator with the Office of Global Affairs. Both of us are study abroad success stories: Rebecca studied abroad in London for a semester as an undergrad, and Natalia, who is an international student from Italy, studied abroad in Fall 2013 in Shanghai, China.

Rebecca (on the left) and a friend in front of Westminster Abbey

Rebecca (on the left) and a friend in front of Westminster Abbey

Natalia (on the right) and her sister on the island of Elba

Natalia (on the right) and her sister on the island of Elba

First things first, start thinking if a semester or academic year overseas is right for you. Here are some important questions you should ask yourself:

1. When would I go, if I did study abroad? (Fall/Spring? Full year program?)
One of the keys to studying abroad involves figuring out the best time during the school year for you to go. Sometimes, majors, minors, or concentrations involve a particularly crucial course that is available in one semester, and students are encouraged to plan their study abroad experience around this course. This is also true for sports (with active seasons), committees, and other clubs/jobs on campus. Talk to your advisor, your coach (if you play a sport), or other students with similar commitments to see how they consider study abroad. If you plan ahead, you CAN study abroad!

Other things to factor in are family commitments during the academic year, like weddings or important graduations to attend. You should also check out the academic calendar year of the country where you are considering studying. For example, in Germany, the fall semester runs through February. Check out our Program Descriptions to see the program start and end dates for each program.

2. What do I want to gain by going abroad that I couldn’t gain at Haverford?
Consider why you’d want to be traveling abroad, and what you want your goals to be. Can you accomplish your goals in the same way at Haverford as you would while abroad?

Here are some ways that study abroad can transform and positively impact your college career. Which of these are important to you?

  • Language immersion
  • Fulfill language requirement in one semester (at some of the programs)
  • Specific courses (i.e. Nordic studies in Sweden)
  • Practice independence
  • Take a break from the routine, while still furthering your academic studies
  • International work/abroad experience
  • Studying abroad has significant career benefits, and will make you stand out in an interview

3. What kind of experience do I want?
The abroad programs available to Haverford students are diverse, and the kind of program that is best for you will not necessarily be the same as your friends’. Explore the Factors to Consider section of our FAQ to learn more about the different kinds, and also consider what each individual program may bring to the table– our Program Descriptions will include that information. Some programs may involve an international internship component that is integrated into the curriculum (so you’re going to school and interning at a company/organization), others promise a fully immersive language component where you can test your language skills every day. Others involve an intense single-course of study for students who are interested in delving into a single academic interest, or fulfilling a language requirement with courses in the host culture’s language.

4. How can I finance study abroad?
Just under 50% of all Haverford students who studied abroad last year are on financial aid. Studying abroad in certain countries is more expensive than in others.  If you would like to compare costs of living check out: www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living. There are many resources available to make the trip more affordable, and remember that your Haverford financial aid travels with you! Some students are even eligible to receive an airfare refund for purchasing plane tickets through their financial aid package with Haverford.

Stop by the study abroad fair on Saturday, October 25 from 1:00pm-5:00pm in the first floor hallways of Stokes. You can meet with representatives from programs on our approved list and ask them any questions you have or share your concerns.

We will also be having another information session on Wednesday, November 19 at 6:30pm in Stokes Auditorium. The Office of International Academic Programs is also very excited to be sponsoring Study Abroad Conversations, a series of discussions and presentations given by students who have studied abroad in the past about a specific topic they learned while overseas. Keep an eye out for these talks throughout the semester- they will be a great way to learn more about the culture of a specific country that you may be interested in studying abroad in.

Make an appointment with Dean Mancini or stop by Chase 213 to talk to me and pick up some program brochures and check out the incredibly helpful black binders. Write down all of those concerns/worries that you have, and let us help you sort things out. Remember, we are here to help you with the process, and there are tons of resources for you to use- all you have to do is ask!

Oh, the places you’ll go!

Time Keeps On Slippin…

Posted on: October 1, 2014

This post, which originally ran on October 1st, 2013, has been edited. 

stock-photo-3737014-sands-of-time

October? Fall break next week?? Wasn’t it just Labor Day? I still haven’t put away summer clothes and my mother’s already texting my brother and me about Thanksgiving.  Sigh::: Time seems slightly more pushy this year and I’m not feeling it. At all.

But I guess it was the same in college.  Even back then, I suspected time was conspiring against me and my yet to be realized interests. I suppose that’s why I woke up early this morning to write this post:  Sophomore year can easily be a fleeting year where college sorta just happens to you. A year of “first, this happened, then that happened, and then the next thing.” Sure you’ll learn more about who your real friends are, the oh-so-young freshmen skipping around will boost your sense of importance and you’ll have that big moment where you officially declare a major…but what else?

A LOT — if you’re intentional. Rather than have your sophomore year just happen to you, wouldn’t it be better if you closed out this year reaching several tangible milestones? Like what you ask…

Well, let’s work backwards. Continue reading

The CPGC and You

Posted on:

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I work for the CPGC, and think that our programs are pretty great. In my opinion, it’s one of the resources that continues to make Haverford a unique place, capable of transforming your college education. Our offices and cafe (with dangerously low-priced treats) are located on the first floor of Stokes.

We don’t really run that many programs–rather, we have various funding/grantmaking streams that are available for students and faculty (but particularly for students!) That’s just a way to say that the ideas you bring us become our programs, and are our main means of achieving our mission. Take a look at this presentation to get a better look at our programs and see how the Center can support your ideas.

Here are some remaining deadlines for the Fall:

  1. If you want to do something cool over Winter Break, November 2 is the big deadline for winter break student research and service learning projects. There will be an information session about designing your own research project on October 26.
  2. Maybe you’re hoping to promote dialogue and provoke thoughts among your fellow students here on campus (you wee scamp!) November 2 is the day for that, too.
  3. Come by and talk to us. Janice Lion and I have office hours, or can make ourselves available for project advising by appointment.
  4. Last year, I wrote a blog post about feeling immobilized by too many options.  The CPGC can help you narrow your broad interests down to a specific project, and I recommend that you take a look at that post as a starting point for searching for an internship.
  5. The off-campus conferences and workshops funding stream is designed to help first and second year students dig deeper into your passions for academic and social justice issues. We recommended it for you, particularly as a prelude to an internship.

So get in touch! We are so excited to hear your ideas, and to meet you.

p.s. in terms of upcoming events, We’re really excited for  (IR)Reverence, a massive tri-center, tri-College celebration of Chinua Achebe’s novel Arrow of God next week.

Making it yours

Posted on: September 29, 2014

You’re a month and a year in to your time at HC – so at this point, you likely know the best way to keep your room cool, the most important spices in the DC, and the optimal time to get a treadmill in the GIAC and avoid the hordes. And that’s great! But what I’m interested in, and what I ask you to consider, is not just knowing the landscape, but improving it; how to make Haverford better for you and your fellow ‘Fords.

These days, pundits love painting the picture of the millenial, the competition-loving, frequent job-switching, internet-dependent networker (to describe us, friends). I’m somewhat skeptical of the sweeping generalizations associated with generational labels, but there is something about our modern environment that fascinates me, which in some fashion is connected to the idea of the millenial: personal content curation.

Today, we have the ability to select those voices, sources, and opinions that appeal to us, and the ability to excise those which irritate or run counter to our beliefs. Sick of a friend’s food photos? Unsubscribe. Tired of a particular website’s cat posts (is that possible?) or a biased and uninformative op-ed? Avoid the website. By withdrawing, we only consume that which we enjoy.

This applies easily to Haverford as well. It’s very easy to avoid classes, offices, meals, or activities that you don’t like, but what I ask you to do is a little harder. Instead of just curating your experience, seize upon the opportunity to design it. Haverford exists for you. But for this institution to improve and meet your needs, it requires your involvement. No issue or idea is too small or too big. Your voice on this campus is very important, and here are a few ways to make it heard:

  • Bring your ideas/concerns/suggestions to Students’ Council. These are actual elected students who represent you. There are specific officers and reps for topics and class years, and they meet weekly to discuss things. So give them something to discuss! Email sc@haverford.edu
  • Talk to a mentor. Any faculty member or staff member that you know is a great resource, and I would highly recommend all of the staff contributors to this blog. They love brainstorming and helping to develop personal projects.
  • Meet with a senior administrator. Deans and Senior Staff members are always happy to meet with you and discuss an issue you’re thinking about.
  • Meet with the President. I’ll tell you from first-hand experience, working in the President’s Office…anyone is welcome to make an appointment and meet with Dan. Just come in to the office in Founders Hall and ask!
  • Talk to me. There’s nothing I love more than kicking around an idea and finding ways to make it work. Come talk to me anytime.

Here’s to a carefully curated and thoughtfully designed rest of the semester. Hoping you’ll seek me out so we can make things happen.

Doing Good: Let’s all just get off campus

Posted on: September 22, 2014

As you figured out last year, one of your Official Duties As a Haverford Student is to engage in the life of the mind. Really, it’s your main duty. From the institution’s perspective, your ability to learn stuff from books and professors is more important than going to your a capella rehearsal, getting into Philly once a month, falling in love for the first time, or even going to Plenary.*

Let me just take a moment to be thankful that there’s so much more to life than homework. I’ll say it again: there’s so much more to life than homework!! And so here’s here’s a sophomore challenge for you: Continue reading

Are you a-WAKE out there?

Posted on: September 7, 2014

wake

Photo by William Colgin.

Sophomores… I’m coming to you LIVE and DIRECT through the haze of the BLOGOSPHERE.  Are you there?  Good.

Haverford is perfect.

Ok, after a year here, you probably know now that’s not quite the case.  Yes, Haverford may be almost as good as a cup of black coffee and some fresh cherry pie, but we can can always make it a bit better.  The Academic Centers—the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center, and the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities—do many things, but sometimes they can feel a bit like Haverford’s test-labs, trying out new ideas, new ways of learning, making, arguing, thinking, and harassing you with a lot of posters everywhere (sorry).

Each Academic Center has about 9 million formal ways for you to get involved (rough estimate), often through public events, film screenings, talks, internships, research funds, jobs, etc.  But as the test-labs of the College, they’re always coming up with Continue reading

“80% of Success is Showing Up” – Woody Allen

Posted on: September 1, 2014

Hello Sophomores! Welcome back!

Hopefully you’ve had some time to unpack and settle into your new rooms! As you readjust to life at Haverford College, this time without the built-in support that the Customs Program provides, perhaps you’re wondering how to branch out, meet more of your peers, or find good advice on navigating sophomore year. There are three things that I suggest you do this month that will ease your transition: Continue reading