New Student Advising: Dickinson’s “Three-Pronged Approach”

Amanda Wampler ‘24, Co-Associate Managing Editor

This fall, the college ended the College Dean program and replaced it with  Launch Technicians; specific faculty members that are assigned to each first year to aid students in career goals for the future. This, along with the CARE (Coordination, Assessment, Response, and Education) Team and Academic Advisors make up the new three-pronged approach that will support and motivate first years through their academic, social, personal, and career goals. 

Before the Fall of 2020, Dickinson had the College Deans program in place, which was intended to help students throughout their time at the college with the guidance of a faculty member. While this program was helpful for some, many students did not feel this was the most successful approach. Due to these reports, the College Dean program was ended as of this fall. Tara Fischer, Dean of Academic Advising & College Dean, noted that the College Dean ended up being support for all student issues, which could be better handled by delegating—using the CARE Team for social/personal disruptions, and an Academic Advisor for class related issues. 

First, in order to create a well-rounded support system for all incoming students, Dickinson created the Launch Technician program to help students on the career front. Though not a replacement for the College Dean program, this program gives students a designated place to go when looking for assistance with their career goals. For now, this program is only used by first-years, but the longtime goal is to have each student at Dickinson be connected with a Launch Technician. 

“These Launch Technicians will be like a case manager, moving them along through career readiness and helping them connect what they are doing inside and outside the classroom in a way that they can articulate confidently, because of the practice that they have had throughout their time at the college,” Fischer said, 

The second important piece of the New Student Advising program is the Academic Advisor. For first-year students, their Academic Advisor is their first year seminar professor. This is a continuation of the previous system. According to Fischer, the first goal of an advisor is to, “teach the logic of Dickinson’s curriculum.” As a first-year student grows their relationship with their advisor, they are also learning about why certain general requirements exist and how to pick classes more independently. 

The final important part of advising is the CARE Team. The CARE Team, “exists to assist with any situation that could potentially disrupt a student’s academic or social wellbeing within the Dickinson community.” This team focuses on supporting students through difficult situations that cannot be handled by either the Launch Technician or the Academic Advisor. 

“In a much more centralized and integrated way, the CARE Team can address concerns, whether they are academic, social, or any other, more thoroughly,” Fischer said. 

Creating three distinct places to go when in need of help has allowed first year students to feel confident and supported during their time at Dickinson. Julia Kelly 24’ said that her relationship with her advisor has been beneficial in allowing her to make the best decisions regarding her future classes.

“Being undecided in my major, there is a lot to decide and my advisor is very helpful. They make sure I have the information I need and want to make sure I’m secure in my courses. When I have questions about course selection, my professors always answer and give me the guidance I need,” Kelly said.

Dickinson is working to make sure first year students feel engaged and supported throughout every area of college life. With the new Launch Technicians, the CARE Team, and Academic Advisors, first year students have a place to turn when in need of help. While selecting classes can be overwhelming, Fischer emphasized the importance of exploring classes and taking time to truly discover what you want to study and why.

“If you know exactly what major you want, that is amazing, if you narrowed it down to two or three choices, that’s amazing, if you are still wide open, that is amazing too. You have until the end of sophomore year to declare your major,” Fischer said.

More information regarding when to refer to the CARE Team can be found here: