What is my faculty adviser's role?

In short, a faculty adviser helps you to develop an educational plan that meets your interests, needs, and goals.

Students have faculty advisers both before they choose a major (also called pre-major adviser) and after (also called major adviser). Your adviser will help you to consider your overall academic career as well as your course selection and will talk to you about general education requirements. He or she will also discuss particular academic choices and course changes (adding or dropping courses, for example). Before you declare your major, your faculty adviser will help you to consider various options as well as course choices that may help you to decide on the major that is right for you.

Once you declare your major, your adviser will help you meet the requirements of the major and will also be a source of guidance and advice not only about your undergraduate classes but also about internships and post-graduation plans, whether these are about going to work or to graduate school or professional school. He or she may also recommend you for post-graduate fellowships and scholarships and will talk to you about doing honors work (although your thesis director will not necessarily be your major adviser). In short, a faculty adviser helps you to develop an educational plan that meets your interests, needs, and goals.

Why do I need a faculty adviser?

Your adviser must approve your academic schedule and course adds or drops as well as any exceptions to college policy that may need to go to the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS) for final approval. But even more important, your faculty adviser can be a good source of information about ways to ensure academic success, meet college requirements, and choose a major and eventual career outside of college. Your FA can be a mentor and guide, helping you to find ways to think about your college career more usefully and productively.

When should I see my faculty adviser?

In general, you should see your FA any time you need advice about an academic matter. You will need to see him or her at pre-registration time so that you can register for courses as well as any time you need to add or drop a course.

When does my pre-major adviser get assigned?

A faculty adviser, also called a pre-major adviser, is assigned to each entering first-year student during the summer before you arrive. Your faculty adviser may be the instructor in your First-Year Seminar, your instructor in one of the other first-year courses in which you are enrolled, or another member of the teaching faculty who is knowledgeable about College regulations.

When do I get a major adviser?

Once you have decided to declare a major, you should talk to a faculty member or the Chair of the academic department in which you plan to major. In many cases, you can ask a faculty member to be your major adviser; in some departments, the Chair assigns the major adviser. Once you know who your major adviser will be, you must fill out a Declaration of Major form, which your new adviser will have to sign. This form is available at the Office of the Registrar on the first floor of Fanning Hall.

What are my responsibilities toward my adviser and in the advising process?

You should meet with your adviser during pre-registration and whenever you need to add or drop a class. And you should be certain not to wait until the last minute to see him or her. Pay attention to deadlines (for example, the last time by which you can add, delete, or drop a course). At pre-registration you should be prepared to discuss which courses you want to take in the following semester. This means you should have looked at the course catalog and course schedule before you meet with your adviser. You should also see your adviser whenever you have any questions about your academic life at the college. Try not to show up at the last minute looking for a signature. Your faculty adviser can be a mentor and a guide for you, as long as you do your part.

Who serves as a pre-major or major adviser?

At Connecticut College, both pre-major and major advisers are teaching faculty who have taught at the College for at least one year. If you participate in a certificate program, a faculty member will advise you on your proposal; if you participate in the funded internship program through the Office of Career and Professional Development, you will have an adviser assigned. These advisers will supplement the work of your FA, but they are not substitutes for your pre-major or major adviser.

How does a college faculty adviser (FA) differ from a high school guidance counselor?

Your faculty adviser is a guide and a mentor, but the primary responsibility for your education is yours. High school guidance counselors take responsibility for outreach and may be more directive in helping students plan their course of study; they also may be more involved in personal matters than college advisers. While your adviser will be friendly and helpful, he or she will most likely direct you to a dean or counseling, health, or disability services for advice and guidance on personal matters. Moreover, while your FA will serve as a source of information and guidance on academic choices, the primary responsibility for those choices will be yours. You, for example, are responsible for reading the College Catalog and understanding the regulations that affect your academic career.

Am I allowed to change my pre-major adviser or major adviser?

Yes. If you wish to change your pre-major adviser, speak to your dean. If you wish to change your major adviser, speak to your adviser first, or, if that is a problem, speak to the chair of the department in which you are majoring.

What happens if my adviser goes on sabbatical or leaves the college?

Pre-major advisers have been asked to give advance notice to both their advisees and the deans' office when they are going to be unavailable for advising. The deans' office also receives a list of faculty who are going on sabbatical or leaving the college. Once the deans' office has been notified, you will have a new pre-major adviser assigned to you until you declare your major. If your major adviser is going to be unavailable to advise, you must work within the department to find a new adviser. Speak to your adviser or the department chair as soon as you are notified about the need for a new major adviser.