As students search for summer opportunities, it is encouraging that the College is focusing its efforts on helping students determine their summer plans. The announcement of the newly-instituted Robert G. Wilmers Jr. 1990 Memorial Summer Language Study Fellowship marks an exciting addition to the College’s already robust collection of fellowships. However, despite our excitement regarding this new opportunity, a lack of publicity and clarity surrounding it points to a larger problem regarding communication on fellowships and other College summer opportunities.
It is important to realize that the College’s resources for summer financial support are unique ones. Many other schools do not offer their students such an abundance of services, and it is commendable that the College has continued to maintain these resources in light of recent economic conditions. This fellowship in particular is impressive because it is open to a large portion of the community: In making it available to first-years, sophomores and juniors, the College is broadening the opportunity for summer study, even though only a few students will get to take advantage of it.
Despite our excitement, we’ve seen a lack of sufficient publicity surrounding general summer opportunities offered by the College. Due to a lack of communication between the different offices on campus that offer summer support, many students understand neither what is available nor for which of these opportunities they are eligible. With options offered through academic departments, the Office of Fellowships, the Office of Career Counseling (OCC) and the Center for Environmental Studies, it can be difficult for students to even know where to begin searching for these resources.
As the College moves forward with the redesign of its website, an addition of an aggregate summer opportunities page is both timely and logical. Giving students one place to search for all of the options available, whether fellowships, grants or internships, would not only simplify the application process for students but also lead to a more competitive and fruitful applicant turnout.
What’s more, it would be to the benefit of the departments involved to further open the channels of communication between them. Formalizing the process for offering students such opportunities should be an area of focus especially for the OCC and the Office of Fellowships, as they are two departments that should naturally interact. Increased communication between students and those in charge of the College’s summer resources can only work to the community’s advantage.