When you arrive on campus for your first term at Yale, many people will be ready and willing to offer advice about your academic choices. It is our hope and expectation that you will make use of Yale’s many advising resources to plan your program of study. Remember that it is in the nature of a liberal education to ask questions and that you have an important role to play in seeking advice.
Residential College Dean Your primary academic adviser is your residential college dean, to whom you may always turn for academic and personal advice. The dean lives and has an office in your residential college. He or she can answer questions about academic requirements and connect you to other advising resources on campus. In addition, your residential college dean oversees your college’s own advising networks. On the first evening of First-Year Orientation, your dean will welcome you at a meeting of all the first-year students in your residential college. He or she will give you some recommendations about how best to take advantage of the opening days and course selection period. You will have many occasions to meet with your dean throughout first year. If you have a question to which you cannot find an answer, or if you need advice you cannot find elsewhere, consult your dean.
First-year Counselor Your first-year counselors are seniors who live near you to be sources of information and assistance throughout the year. Your counselors can offer suggestions about curricular and extracurricular choices, take an interest in your concerns, and give firsthand advice on how best to use the academic and other resources of your residential college and of Yale College. For more information, see the tab on freshman counselors.
College Adviser Your first-year adviser is a Yale faculty member or administrator affiliated with your residential college who has volunteered to talk with you about your academic interests and aspirations. He or she can offer general guidance about constructing a sensible overall schedule for your first year, help you think through larger questions and plans, and direct you to relevant resources. Please note that the primary purposes of these conversations are to provide general advice about acclimating to Yale’s academic culture and to give you an opportunity to become acquainted with a member of the faculty or administration affiliated with your residential college. Specific questions about particular courses or requirements should be directed to the relevant academic department or your residential college dean. You will meet your college adviser at the advising meeting in your residential college dining hall the day before classes begin. Be aware that advisers typically serve four or five students from the same college, and this first meeting usually takes place in a small group. The principal purpose of this meeting is to discuss general questions and to arrange a follow-up meeting when you can talk one on one. You and your adviser must meet at least one or two more times before course schedules are due, either in your adviser’s office or in your residential college, perhaps over a meal in the dining hall. Among the purposes of the follow-up meeting(s) are reviewing the courses you chose during course selection period and securing your adviser’s signature endorsing your fall-term program of study. Please be aware that you will likely need to address specific questions about courses and requirements to faculty affiliated with the relevant academic department or your college dean. If you have any difficulty finding answers to a particular question, your college dean can guide you to the right source of information. Finally, keep in mind that advisers are also available to meet throughout the term about any matter you wish to discuss, and the amount of contact you have with your adviser depends largely upon your interest and initiative. We particularly encourage you to arrange a meeting with your adviser around midterm to discuss how your courses are going, and again toward the end of the term as you begin to think about the spring term.
Resident Fellows Resident fellows are Yale faculty or staff members who live in apartments in the residential colleges or on the Old Campus. They work with the college head of colleges and deans to provide supplemental oversight and support for students. Resident fellows on the Old Campus regularly organize events to introduce freshmen to various Yale College resources, including academic tutoring, premedical planning, advice about summer jobs and internships, and programs for study abroad.
Departmental Advising and the Academic Fair During your first few days on campus, a number of activities will help you get the academic year started. For example, you will have the opportunity to hear faculty presentations at departmental meetings, to sign up for sections of courses, to take placement tests, to consult directors of undergraduate studies, and to attend orientation sessions led by the Health Professions Advisory Program or the Center for International Experience. Each academic department has a director of undergraduate studies (DUS), with whom you can discuss the department’s course offerings and major requirements. Contact information for each DUS is printed by department in Yale College Programs of Study (the YCPS, or “Blue Book,” which will be mailed to you in August), and a separate list of DUSes is posted on the Yale College Web site. Large departments may also have departmental representatives in the residential colleges; the YCPS lists the names of these representatives. A particularly important opportunity to gather information about academic programs is the annual Academic Fair, held on the Tuesday afternoon before classes begin. At this event, directors of undergraduate studies and faculty members from most academic programs and departments will be available to offer you guidance about courses, placement, and prerequisites for majors. The fair provides excellent opportunities to gather information and advice from a broad range of sources, and you are strongly urged to attend.
Future Advising Your first-year counselor, college adviser, and college dean are your first points of contact with the advising network. However, many members of the faculty are also available to talk to you, and you will meet them in the natural course of your studies. Often the best advising relationships arise from shared interests and experiences that begin in the classroom. Starting in your freshman year, you should seek out faculty members who might be good counselors and guides.
At the end of your first year, you will choose your sophomore adviser, a faculty member who will help you select courses and shape a program of study for your second year. In your junior and senior years your adviser will be a faculty member in your major, often the DUS. Remember that these advising resources are of little use if you do not actively take advantage of them. During each of your four years, if you look for faculty members whom you would like to get to know, you will often find generous support. Finally, keep in mind that you may always consult your residential college dean if you are unsure of where to go for help.