When you arrive on campus for your first term at Yale, many people will be ready and willing to offer advice about campus life and your academic choices. It is our hope and expectation that you will take advantage of Yale’s many advising resources. 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.
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 Freshman Orientation, your dean will welcome you at a meeting of all the freshmen 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 also have many occasions to meet with your dean throughout freshman 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.
Your freshman adviser is a Yale faculty or staff member affiliated with your residential college who has volunteered to talk with you about your academic interests and aspirations. Your adviser works with your residential college dean and freshman counselor to guide you through constructing a sensible overall schedule for your first year, help you think through larger questions, goals and plans, and direct you to relevant resources. Meeting with your adviser will give you the opportunity to become acquainted with a Yale faculty or staff member. In particular, it will help you as you acclimate to Yale and its academic culture, and help you connect to campus networks. Additionally, your adviser may be in a position to answer specific, course-related questions, but you may also need to direct those questions to your residential college dean, freshman counselor, or to faculty in the relevant academic departments (see Departmental Advising and the Academic Fair, below). If you encounter difficulties finding answers to your questions, your college dean can guide you to the right sources of information.
You will meet your freshman adviser for the first time in your residential college during Freshman Orientation. Be aware that advisers typically serve several students from the same college and this first meeting usually takes place in a small group. The principal purposes of this meeting are to discuss general questions and to arrange a follow-up meeting where you can talk one-on-one. You can get the most out of this meeting by coming prepared to talk about your background, your interests, and your goals for your Yale College experience.
You and your adviser will meet at least one more time before your course schedule is 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 to continue the conversation begun during your first group meeting, discuss your adjustment to college life, review your course selections, and secure your adviser’s signature endorsing your fall-term program of study.
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 fall term as you begin to think about the spring term. Your freshman adviser may email you first and, in that case, we encourage you to reply in a timely fashion.
Freshman 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.
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 (DUS), and to attend orientation sessions led by the Health Professions Advisory Program or the Center for International and Professional Experience.
Each academic department has DUS, with whom you can discuss the department’s course offerings and major requirements. Contact information for each DUS is listed by department in Yale College Programs of Study (the YCPS, or “Blue Book,” which is available on line early in the summer). 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 during Freshman Orientation. At this event, DUSes and faculty members from most academic programs and departments, and in some cases junior or senior majors, 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.
Your residential college dean, freshman adviser, and freshman counselor are your first points of contact within 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 freshman 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.