Central to Trinity’s curricular philosophy is a conviction that students should be largely responsible for the shape and content of their individual programs of study, since this is one of the best ways to become intelligently self-motivated in respect to matters that have great personal, social, and intellectual significance. The College’s undergraduate curriculum provides a framework within which to explore the many dimensions of a liberal education. It sets a basic direction for students through general education requirements, while offering each individual the flexibility to experiment, to deepen old interests and develop new ones, to take advantage of a wide variety of special curricular opportunities, and to acquire specialized training in a major field.
Given the flexible nature of Trinity’s curriculum and the wealth of academic options it makes available to undergraduates, judicious faculty advising is an essential component of the educational process. Such advising is most apt to occur when the student and the adviser can develop a close working relationship. Thus, first-year students and sophomores ordinarily have as their advisers the faculty members who teach them in first-year seminars (see p. 244) during their initial semester at the College. By working on a topic of mutual intellectual interest for an entire semester, the student and the faculty member are able to develop the close acquaintance with and respect for one another that are crucial to successful advising. (Special advising arrangements are also made for first-year students in the Guided Studies Program, the Interdisciplinary Science Program, the Cities Program, the InterArts Program, and the Genomics Research Program.)
In planning the first-year and sophomore course of study, the student and adviser will assess the student’s personal and intellectual interests and aspirations, develop a schedule for satisfying the general education requirements, canvass possible choices of major, consider which electives the student will take, and discuss the many special educational opportunities (e.g., foreign study, internships, open semesters) available at Trinity.