Guiding Questions


Sample Discussion Topics by year and category

Freshmen Year

For many students, freshman year is a lot of change at once. It might be the first time living away from home while also dealing with new academic and social pressures. College also allows for lots of exciting decisions about identity formation, but this can also feel overwhelming. First-year students face a variety of issues including:

+Head
  • What student learned about his/her path from writing Plan4Ward
  • What student learned about himself/herself from Success Navigator
  • How to develop good study skills and habits
  • Asking for help – academic services and faculty members
  • Expectations for college and for the student/guide relationship

+Heart
  • What the student learned about passions/interests from StrengthsFinder and other assessments
  • The careers the student is exploring and why
  • The extracurricular activities the student is interested in getting involved in and what draws them to those activities
  • What the student learned from “Day of Service”
  • How the student’s involvement at Berry will impact Berry or larger community?

+Hands
  • What student learned from StrengthFinder and other assessments about strengths related to major or career
  • Exploring careers and attending career center functions
  • How to build professional skills through opportunities on campus
  • Gaining work experience through campus job and what the student is learning there
  • Getting involved in extracurricular activities that are connected to goals
  • Start a document where you collect things you’re proud of
  • Searching for an internship or summer job

Sophomore Year

Sophomore year is often described as a time when the “newness” of college fades. It is a time when students priorities shift from friendships to major choices. This year can be filled with uncertainty, growth, and lack of motivation based on previous performance. Without the structure of the first year, sophomores may feel lost, stressed, and relationships may feel complicated

+Head
  • What the student has revised about his/her P4W path and why
  • Looking back at Success Navigator, talk through learning style – where is the student struggling in classes? Where does the student thrive and why?
  • Places the student might go to for help as follow-up to the previous question
  • Places where a student might have gaps or might not be using, head, hands, and heart. What opportunities are out there? (ex. Study abroad – how would this change path?)

+Heart
  • How student is applying strengths and weaknesses
  • How student’s career path is connected to passions/strengths
  • Extracurricular activities, why the students has chosen to be involved, and how it applies to goals
  • How the student’s involvement at Berry will impact Berry or larger community?

+Hands
  • Career choices tied to major and the appropriate next steps
  • How to build professional skills through opportunities on campus
  • Work position and work evaluations. What could the student learn from this?
  • Collection of artifacts and why they are important
  • Searching for an internship or summer job

Junior Year

Many students choose to dig deeper into their majors at this point through experiences such as study abroad, internships, research, etc. during all or part of their junior year. As a result, juniors may find that their core group of friends is away from campus. Those who are abroad may experience culture shock and homesickness. While experiences vary, some may experience dissatisfaction with his or her surroundings, trouble articulating experiences and its value, change in relationships, and general questioning.

+Head
  • Thinking backward and forward. How close are they to reaching their academic goals? What needs to happen next? (thesis? Graduation requirements?)
  • Places the student might go to for help as follow-up to the previous question
  • Places where a student might have gaps. Can student find connections to academics and other areas (heart/hands?)
  • What opportunities are still out there? What is holding the student back?

+Heart
  • Describe experiences tied to the heart and what students have learned thus far
  • How the student has impacted the community and what part he/she hopes to play in the community in the future
  • Goals based in passions – what have you accomplished? What do you want to leave behind?
  • Relating to the perspectives of others and engaging with the community

+Hands
  • Career choices tied to major and the appropriate next steps (Grad school vs. job search)
  • Professional strengths and weaknesses
  • Work position and work evaluations. How has this changed over two years?
  • Collection of artifacts and why they are important
  • Internship, summer job, or study abroad and how these experiences connect to career choices

Senior Year

Seniors approaching graduation have many obvious stressors such completing his/her thesis or capstone work, after graduation plans, and overall anxiety around leaving and entering the “real world.” Some seniors will also struggle with other issues such as negotiating salary, securing housing, family responsibility, and managing personal finances.

+Head
  • Final graduation requirements and capstone work – how can the student finish strong?
  • The original P4W – how has the student grown? How have his/her experiences worked together at Berry?
  • Graduation plans and future goals

+Heart
  • Most meaningful experience at Berry and why?
  • How can the student can continue to engage with community after graduation
  • Fulfillment and well-being; where will the student feel most satisfied in job/school

+Hands
  • Grad school vs. job search
  • Professional strengths and weaknesses – what are reasonable expectations in next phase?
  • Work experiences and how they connects to the next phase in life


Starting the Conversations:

  • How have these first seven weeks fulfilled or failed to fulfill your expectations?
  • What has been the most rewarding part of college so far? Most difficult?
  • If you could go back to the beginning of the semester, what would you do differently?
  • What do you see as your main challenges for the rest of this semester?
  • Think a little further ahead. Where do you see yourself at the end of the year? 4 Years from now?
  • What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been here?
  • What type of workshop/support would you like?