Stanford’s second iDeclare week, an event series designed to assist sophomores with the process of declaring a major, took place last week from Jan. 23 to Jan. 27.
The week included a range of events geared toward offering the Class of 2014 resources and information about potential major tracks and requirements.
“This year’s week was highlighted by a Sophomore Faculty Dinner featuring President Hennessy to kick it off, a “Faculty Meet Fourteen” event on Tuesday and an alumni panel featuring Time Magazine columnist Joel Stein on Friday,” said Dhruv Amin ’14, a sophomore class co-president. Other events in the program included a senior-sophomore mentorship program as well as internship and research workshops.
Phounsouk Sivilay ’14, sophomore class co-president, said that attendance at the events, while difficult to assess accurately, was generally impressive. Sivilay cited the over-attendance at interview workshops and alumni panels as evidence of sophomore interest in the week’s programming.
“The kickoff Sophomore Faculty Dinner featuring President Hennessy was definitely the most popular event,” Amin said, noting that the allocation of 300 student seats was filled within 90 minutes of sending out the RSVP link.
That response was “faster than the past three years this event has been thrown,” Amin said.
In addition to President Hennessy’s opening remarks, Sivilay noted the presence of Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Harry Elam and three faculty Nobel Laureates at the event.
All of the University’s departments were invited for the week’s events, and those departments that decided to hold open houses during the week were wrapped up into the rest of the iDeclare events.
“I feel that we had a good balance [of departments],” Sivilay said. “We did provide the opportunity for any department that wanted to be involved to get involved.”
Sivilay commented that this year’s iDeclare week marked significantly closer collaboration with other University institutions, such as The Stanford Fund and Undergraduate Advising and Research, than last year’s event. He credited the larger budget available to iDeclare organizers as contributing to the week’s enhanced impact on sophomores, citing the increased access to information offered by iDeclare pamphlets and online resources.
Sivilay added that the cost of the week was largely borne by the sophomore class presidency’s partnerships with University institutions and academic departments.
“It was a collaboration,” said Ashley Williams ’14, a sophomore class cabinet member. “We had our initial ideas of what our peers thought would be helpful and useful, and we worked with the other parties and incorporated what they thought would be beneficial.”
The week’s timing in winter rather than in the fall or spring – when sophomores traditionally declare their major – is deliberate, Amin said.
“In the fall, students are just beginning to search for a major and may still not have experience with multiple departments yet,” he said. “In the spring, most students are ready to declare and having a week of information about the various departments would no longer be useful.”
Sivilay added that, in addition to assisting sophomores with finding information about various majors, iDeclare is intended to help sophomores plan ahead.
“This week is meant to inform you and give you access to all these resources, and allow you to be ahead on things that you don’t know that you’ll need yet,” Sivilay said.
Reflecting on the week, Sivilay noted that the iDeclare program still has potential for growth through incorporating more departments into the event series. He remained positive, however, about the week’s impact on sophomores.
“I think it was a very successful event,” Sivilay said. “The people who attended the events found them extremely valuable and informative.”