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Focusing Academic Vision: Cultivating Intentionality in Academic Planning

Resource People: 
Elizabeth Regosin, associate dean of faculty affairs and associate professor of history Robert Thacker, associate dean for advising and professor of Canadian studies

STL: What does “cultivating intentionality” mean?
Students and faculty agree to talk about such large issues as “Why are you in college?”  and “How do you like to learn?”  Students take the driver’s seat as they journey through the four years of college, focusing their vision on the destination that is a responsible, involved, fulfilling life—and keeping in mind the skills and habits they need to strengthen to get where they want to go.

Students are asked to be intentional about their academic planning—not just to pick courses from a menu to fulfill distribution requirements, but to think carefully, with their advisor, about how each course contributes to the whole. 

STL: Why is it important?
The new model of academic advising is a developmental model.  It asks students to take responsibility, to think about consequences, to accept leadership in their own lives.  Students begin with setting goals of all kinds, general and specific, and then work with faculty advisors to construct a plan of coursework, research, leadership and volunteerism and extracurricular activities, that enables them to achieve their goals. Then, “at a series of specific moments, students take stock of the effectiveness of their plan as well as the need to revisit their goals and revise them as needed,” Regosin notes.

STL: How will it be implemented?
Advisors can use a series of five reflective exercises that ask students, over their four years, to consider and write about their college experience:  Exploratory Goals Essay, Goals Revision, Major Declaration (with rationale), Senior-Year Experience Prospectus and Looking Back.  Advisors also can help students create an e-portfolio that is a site of “collection, selection, reflection and projection,” according to Regosin.

STL: Why is this consistent with St. Lawrence’s mission?
By following this model of “cultivating intentionality,” faculty are doing the work they most love to do—encouraging students to learn and grow. 

STL: What does it mean for the future of St. Lawrence?
St. Lawrence will become known as a college where all four years of student  participation in coursework, research, clubs, teams, honor societies, volunteer projects, leadership training, everything—all of these opportunities contribute to education. “No two students will follow the same St. Lawrence path,” says Thacker, but they’ll share an experience that was planned by each of them and from which each of them will emerge as graduates ready to take on life.                                                      --LMC

To read the Academic Strategic Planning Paper on advising, visit and click on Academic Planning.
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