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At Advising Fortnight Kickoff Dinner, Freshmen Sample Various Concentrations

Annenberg Hall, the location of the Advising Fortnight kickoff dinner.
Annenberg Hall, the location of the Advising Fortnight kickoff dinner. By Allison G. Lee
By Katelyn X. Li and Heide L. Rogers, Contributing Writers

Freshmen students flooded Annenberg Hall Monday night to talk to advisers from all 49 concentrations and 9 unaffiliated secondary fields at the Advising Fortnight kickoff dinner on Monday evening.

The annual concentration fair is the opening event for Advising Fortnight, a two-week series of events aimed at helping first-year students start thinking about their concentration choice.

According to Assistant Director of Advising Programs Brooks B. Lambert-Sluder ’05, the kickoff event allows freshmen to sample different interests and get a sense of how they want to start exploring their future concentration—both over the next two weeks, and over the next several months before their decision.

Undergraduates have until November of their sophomore year to choose a concentration.

Catherine R. Shapiro, resident dean of freshmen for Crimson Yard, said the Advising Fortnight kickoff dinner can be an important time for first-years to begin considering what courses they might select in the upcoming semester. Many students might only begin taking introductory courses for their concentration in the fall of sophomore year.

“You need time to think about what you’ve heard and how that fits into your experience, so that when you go into sophomore year, you’re making good decisions,” Shapiro said.

While Monday’s concentration fair might have given students a first glimpse at prospective concentrations, Patrick D. Ulrich, associate director of undergraduate studies in Environmental Science and Engineering, said the kickoff dinner is only meant to be an introduction.

“It’s hard to talk in depth here, so the hope is to come up, meet us, and then let’s talk one-on-one when you’re actually really interested in what we’re offering,” Ulrich said.

In the following two weeks, students will have the chance to follow up on their concentration interests in a variety of events hosted specifically by faculty representatives from different departments.

Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 said he would urge students to look at several options.

“I’d encourage them to go to a handful that seem close to their current interests and collect some information," he said.

Ross Simmons ’21, who said he had no clear idea about his concentration choice, visited a plethora of tables.

“I talked to Earth and Planetary Sciences and Math and Physics and Classics and Government and Social Studies, and I made a sweep,” Simmons said.

Some student said that conversations with faculty members present at the event convinced them to consider a field that had not previously been on their minds.

“I had an interesting conversation with Andrew Berry because of this event, and I’m really glad, and now I’m actually maybe considering Integrative Biology,” Joyce Tian ’21 said.

Tian added that though the crowded event was “preposterously chaotic”, she was glad that “they’ve actually coalesced every single concentration and every single director of these concentrations specifically for us to talk to.”

Nishita Sinha ’21 like many of her peers, said she is still far from a final decision on her concentration.

“I talked to Gregory Tucci, which was really cool,” Sinha said. “He’s in Chemistry and I really wasn’t Chemistry, but he’s such a cool professor, and maybe I’ll do Chemistry now, like, who knows.”

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