This page provides information about academic advising for new students and how to plan for your first year of study at Lawrence.  For more information about the advising relationship, see Advising Syllabus. Advising information for individual departments or programs can be found under Areas of Study; click the name of the program and look for an Advising page in the navigation menu.  If you don't find an Advising page or have further questions, contact the department chair or program director.

Academic Advising for New Students

At Lawrence, we believe that students should receive individual attention from faculty members both as instructors and as academic advisors. Advisors help students explore the curriculum, plan their studies, and achieve the most from their Lawrence experience.

While new students have the chance to complete an up to  40-minute, personalized one-on-one video conference with one of our academic advisors this summer, a permanent Academic Advisor will be assigned prior to Welcome Week in the fall.

Assigning Your Academic Advisor

All new students are required to submit the Advisor Information Form. For fall matriculation, the form should be submitted by July 10.

The Director of Advising assigns faculty advisors for new students based on the academic interests noted on the Advisor Information Form, taking into account current advising loads, planned sabbaticals, and other factors. While your initial advisor may not be in your intended major, you can be assured that you will get good advice on planning your studies and adjusting to college life. By the spring of the sophomore year, you will declare a major and select an advisor in your major department, who will guide you the rest of the way to graduation.

The name of your advisor will appear in your Voyager account under "View Your Program Information & Academic History" later in the summer after advising assignments are complete.

Meeting with Your Academic Advisor

During Welcome Week, you will meet your advisor and learn more about the role your advisor will play as well as your own responsibilities in the advising relationship. You will also schedule an individual advising appointment for later in the week.

At the advising appointment, you and your advisor will discuss your responses on the Advisor Information Form, review your registration choices for the fall term (if you pre-registered), make course selections for the winter and spring terms, and address any questions you have as you begin the exciting experience of a liberal education. You will check in with your advisor again in the middle of fall term and throughout the year to assess your progress, make changes to your plans or schedule, or connect with other university resources.

In the middle of your sophomore year, you will find an advisor in your intended major (who may be your initial advisor or a new advisor) who can help you plan your course schedule for the junior year before advance registration starts in April.  All students must declare a major by the start of the junior year, and you may change your major and advisor at any time.

For more information, see Advising FAQ.

Choosing Your Classes

The Academic Program

Please read this information before completing the Voyager registration.

The first step in planning your academic program is to understand the makeup of a Lawrence education, which is described in the course catalog under "The Liberal Arts Education" and "The Structure of the Curriculum."  During your years at Lawrence you will study broadly and intensively, so take time to become familiar with the course catalog, which presents the many opportunities available to you and defines the requirements for your Lawrence degree. As you read the catalog, think about what you want to accomplish during your college years.

Placement Information

Placement exams are required for students with previous background who intend to continue study in world languages, biology, chemistry, math (calculus), and music (music theory). See the sidebar on Course Placement & Placement Exams.

Course Numbers and Levels

Lawrence uses a prefix and 3-digit number for every course (for example, ENG 150 Literary Analysis is an introductory course in the English department). Course levels are distinguished as introductory (100-199), foundation/gateway (200-399), advanced (400-599), and capstone/Senior Experience (600-699). Departments may vary in the details of their course numbering, as described in the department sections of the catalog.

Each time a course is offered, it is listed with a 4-digit class reference number (CRN) in the class schedule. The CRN is a random code assigned to a particular section of a course during a particular term. It is used to register for the correct section and has no other meaning.

New Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Students

The registrar will place you in fall and winter term First Year Studies (11:10-12:20 MWF). You will register for two more fall courses during summer advance registration, and after you meet with your advisor during Welcome Week, you will update your fall registration and add two courses for winter and three for spring.

Your first-year goal should be to take courses that will help you plan your subsequent three years of study. Use the online course schedule (on the registrar's website) to explore introductory (100-level) course offerings across the university. If you have a major in mind, choose a course in that area to see if it suits you. Balance this with a course in an area you have never studied before. Take a mix of course types (lab, reading-intensive, hands-on) each term to balance your workload and provide variety to your days.

Some areas of study have recommended course sequences for the first year. For example, students planning to major in math or computer science should complete the calculus sequence during the first year. See the Mathematics Department's Advising page for current information about the introductory Calculus sequence and placement. Students planning to major in the humanities should complete a language sequence the first year. All students are encouraged to take placement tests for languages, math, science, or music theory, and to plan ahead for study abroad.

Choosing a major

You do not need to declare a major until the sophomore year, so take time to explore different areas of study. You will satisfy many requirements along the way and build a broad foundation in the liberal arts that will serve you well in any career.

General education requirements

Lawrence requires you to take at least one course in every division (arts, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences), so having variety in your schedule will help you do this. Lawrence also requires course that focus on global (G) and domestic (D) diversity, so you might take a course with one of these designations. Competency in quantitative reasoning (Q) is easily satisfied in math, science, or economics; students who plan to study arts or humanities will want to look for a Q course such as microeconomics or statistics. Competencies in writing (W) or speaking (S) are usually satisfied by courses required for the major. Pursue your interests in the freshman year, and when you plan for the sophomore year, you can look to see what general education requirements still need to be fulfilled.

Language competency

All students in the B.A. program must demonstrate intermediate competency (at the 200-level or above) in a language other than English. If you did not study a language in high school, take the full three-term sequence (101/102/201) in your freshman or sophomore year. If you previously studied French, German, Spanish, or Russian, take the online placement exam to determine where to start in the sequence. For other languages, check with the department for proper placement. If you went to high school in a language other than English or are a native speaker or signer of another language, you can satisfy the requirement in other ways. Look under Academic Procedures and Regulations in the course catalog for more information.

Music study

Many non-music majors at Lawrence participate in music ensembles and/or take private lessons. Check with the Conservatory of Music office during Welcome Week to see about auditions or interviews. Non-music majors are accommodated after Conservatory students have been placed.  There is a nominal fee for private lessons each term.

If you are interested in majoring in music as a Bachelor of Arts student, you may wish to consider taking the beginning music theory sequence (theory/sight-singing/aural skills), basic keyboard skills, lessons, and/or an ensemble. For more information see the Conservatory of Music website.

New Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) Students

Students in the Bachelor of Music program have a set schedule for the first year with one elective in the spring. The registrar will place you in fall and winter term Freshman Studies (11:10-12:20 MWF), where you will develop your writing and discussion skills while being introduced to the liberal arts. The Conservatory of Music will place you in a music theory sequence (theory/sight-singing/aural skills), basic keyboard skills (for non-piano majors), lessons and studio classes based on your audition and performance on the music theory placement exam. All Bachelor of Music students must also participate in a large ensemble, with placement determined by audition during Welcome Week. Finally, after you meet with your advisor during Welcome Week, you will register for one elective course in the spring. This should be a college course that will help you develop your intellectual interests and academic pursuits.

New Double-Degree (B.A./B.Mus.) Students

Double-degree students are in a five-year program that leads to both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees. Most double-degree students start with the first-year sequence in the Conservatory of Music described under New Bachelor of Music Students above, choosing one elective course in the college for the spring. You may, however, choose to take one college course each term during your first year by reducing your lessons to 3 units. In rare cases, student have deferred the music theory sequence to the second year and pursued first-year college study as described under New Bachelor of Arts Students above. It is important to plan carefully to meet the requirements for both degrees, so you will meet with both your conservatory and college advisors during Welcome Week before you register for classes.

New Visiting International Students (Non-Degree)

As a visiting international student, you will meet with your advisor during Welcome Week and then register for classes. To prepare for this meeting, look at the course offerings in many areas of study and select possible courses that match your interests and class standing, being sure to check the course level and prerequisites. Visiting students are not required to take Freshman Studies, but you may find Freshman Studies useful for improving your English skills and learning about the liberal arts, so if you are interested in taking Freshman Studies, contact the Freshman Studies Director for placement.

New Waseda Students (Non-Degree)

Visiting Waseda students have a set schedule of courses for the first term and then register for additional courses after meeting with an advisor during Welcome Week. The fall courses provide intensive study in academic English and an introduction to American education and to Lawrence. Courses in winter and spring provide further development in academic English and options for liberal arts study with other Lawrence students. See the Waseda CS-L Program website for more information.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Lawrence is committed to providing a quality liberal education and encouraging academic success for all our students. Part of that commitment is offering academic accommodations to students with disabilities who need those accommodations to participate in and benefit from our academic programs.

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990/2008), students must request accommodations and provide appropriate documentation, and the university works with students to identify reasonable accommodations that do not sacrifice academic integrity or provide an undue burden.

All students with disabilities are encouraged to view the Accessibility Services webpage and meet with the Accessibility Services Specialist in the Center for Academic Success (Briggs Hall, first floor) to arrange accommodations for their Lawrence courses.  To save time, students should bring supporting documentation (such as a diagnostic report) with them when they come to campus.

Course Placement & Placement Exams

Students may be placed into a more advanced course on the basis of a placement exam, credit earned by a score of 4 or 5 on an Advanced Placement (AP) Exam, or transfer credit from another college or university. New students are encouraged to take Lawrence placement exams in all areas of prior study, especially world languages, math (calculus), or science, even if they have no current plans to continue in that subject (plans change!). Music students are required to take the online placement exam for music theory. Some departments (such as Classics) ask students to consult with the department for proper course placement.

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit

You may receive 6 units of Lawrence credit for a score or 4 or 5 on Advanced Placement Exams. AP credit may be used to satisfy general education requirements in quantitative reasoning, language competency, and diversity. It may also satisfy course prerequisites as determined by individual academic departments. Please see the department placement recommendations for AP credits.

Language Placement

All students who receive a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Exam administered by the Educational Testing Service for a language other than English will have satisfied the language competency requirement. Those who are placed above the intermediate level on a Lawrence placement exam should see the department for how to satisfy the requirement.

French, German, Russian, or Spanish: Placement exams are offered online and should be taken before arriving on campus or during Welcome Week. All students who have prior study in the language must take the placement exam to register for a language class. Results are valid for one year, so students who defer language courses to the sophomore year will need to retake the exam. See department websites for more information.

Arabic, Chinese, Italian, or Japanese: Students should consult with the instructors of these courses for placement information.

Greek or Latin: Students who have studied Greek or Latin in high school should consult with the chair of the Classics Department for proper placement. In general, students with four years of high school Latin may enroll in any Latin course numbered 200 or above. Students with three years may want to refresh their knowledge by taking Classics 110. Those with two years should enroll in Classics 110, while those with one year are advised to begin anew in Classics 100. Students who have studied Greek in high school should consult with the department chair.


Students with at least two years of high school biology (or with IB biology) may try to test out of BIOL 130 or 150, although all students are encouraged to take these courses to develop laboratory skills. There is no automatic exemption for AP or IB scores. Placement exams occur during Welcome Week at the posted times. A maximum of 6 units in biology can be awarded based on AP credit or a placement exam.


Students with no high school chemistry should enroll in CHEM 115 with instructor approval. Students who have taken CHEM 115 or an equivalent introductory course, or who have AP or IB credit, do not need to take a placement exam to enroll in CHEM 116. Other students should take the placement exam to see if CHEM 116 is appropriate.

Mathematics: Calculus

See the Mathematics Department's Advising page for current information about the introductory Calculus sequence and placement.

Music Theory

All new music majors, including transfer students, must take the online music theory placement exam and a sight-singing test for proper course placement. Non-majors planning to enroll in First Year Theory and Analysis (MUTH 201) must also take the online placement exam. Students with substantial background in music theory may also take a more advanced placement exam to determine their possible exemption from parts of the first-year theory sequence.

A placement exam evaluating keyboard skills is required of all Bachelor of Music students whose primary instrument is not keyboard as well as all Bachelor of Arts students planning a music major.

See the Conservatory of Music website for information about placement exams and ensemble auditions.