Advising FAQ

+ Who is responsible for my future?

As a student at Lawrence University, you are responsible for planning and pursuing your own educational program. You are able to make your own decisions and choose appropriate options.

+ What does an advisor do?

As you begin your college experience, a faculty advisor will help you with the important task of planning your education and will offer guidance. Just like a class instructor, the advisor can assist you in understanding the curriculum, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, setting your goals, and effectively utilizing the resources of Lawrence. Your Lawrence education can be most rewarding when you build a strong relationship with your advisor. In addition to an excellent education, you may gain a valued mentor.

+ How was my advisor assigned?

The Director of Advising tries to assign a new student to a faculty advisor on the basis of similar academic interests, particularly those interests indicated in on the Advisor Information Form. But even if you are not initially assigned to an advisor in your intended major, be assured that all faculty advisors are prepared to assist students across the liberal arts curriculum.

+ When I declare my major, will my advisor change?

Students should declare a major and find an advisor in their major department by spring of the sophomore year so that advisor can help them plan their studies for the junior and senior years. There are simple forms for declaring a major and changing advisors on the Registrar's Forms page. If you would like help determining a major or finding an advisor, ask your current advisor or contact the Center for Academic Success.

+ How do I change my advisor?

Most students’ needs or interests change over time, and you aren’t required to change advisors every time your interests change. Not until your junior year must your advisor be in the department of your intended major. All new students keep their assigned advisors for at least one term. After that, you may decide to change advisors, and your current advisor will not be offended if you do change. To change advisors, complete the Change of Advisor form available on the Registrar's Forms page and have it signed by your new advisor to indicate agreement to advise you. Turn in the form at the Registrar's Office. The Registrar will notify your former advisor and request that any advising materials be forwarded to the new advisor. You might email your former advisor as a courtesy and to say thank you.

+ What is the advising relationship?

If you work with your advisor to advance your education and development, you should find your advisor continually helpful and responsive. Your advisor wishes to offer you good guidance and will help you decide among the various course and program options available as you meet general education requirements and pursue your academic interests. The advisor also will direct you to resources concerning such opportunities as study abroad, internships, and research possibilities. In addition, you must consult with your advisor not only about course selection or changes but also about any plans to overload or underload and any petitions to the Subcommittee on Administration for exceptions to academic regulations (such as late registration).

+ For what do I need to contact my advisor?

You will need to contact your advisor before you can register for courses and whenever you want to select the S/U option for a course, register for an underload or an overload, or petition for an exception to an academic regulation. These actions require an advisor’s signature, or the release of an advising hold, to verify that you have talked with your advisor before making a decision. You may also choose to meet with your advisor to discuss your academic program and plans for the future (including off-campus study, internships, or summer research), clarify questions about academic procedures or other aspects of academic life at Lawrence, and seek assistance or referral to resources for any academic difficulties you may be experiencing. Your advisor will listen to your plans or questions and present approaches to making the best decision. Often the advisor will refer you to the Career Center, the Center for Academic Success, Counseling Services, Mudd Library, the Registrar's Office, or other university resources that can help you take charge of your own education.

+ How do I prepare for my appointments?

Make an appointment with your advisor (email is recommended) or drop in during office hours. Advisors cannot be effective if students ask to have forms signed in a hurry between classes. Plan ahead for the meeting. Prepare a draft of a course plan or a list of questions you wish to discuss. Identify your central concerns in the meeting. Be specific about the kind of advice you want. Ask questions and ask your advisor to question you.

+ Does the advising relationship work the same way in the conservatory?

Yes, for the most part, but some conservatory regulations governing issues such as transfer music credit, student-designed music majors, and B.A. music requirements may differ from the general university regulations, in which case students will need to petition the Conservatory Committee on Administration as well. In either the conservatory or the college, the advisor must sign the appropriate form; this signature indicates advice was given.

+ Will my advisor keep track of my degree requirements?

Your education is ultimately your responsibility. Do not expect the advisor to routinely keep track of your general education, degree, and major requirements. Advisors may review requirements periodically as part of course planning, but you are responsible for meeting all requirements. Your requirements are spelled out in the university catalog for the year you entered the university. Information about requirements is also available from your advisor and the registrar. Each term you should review your degree summary on Voyager to which requirements have been satisfied and which remain open. Be sure to check your Voyager registration before the end of the first week of each term to make sure it accurately lists the courses you are taking; otherwise, you will have to petition to change your registration and pay a late fee.

+ Is it my advisor's responsibility to be in charge of my education?

Students sometimes think that their advisors are able to approve or deny requests, but at Lawrence, this is generally not true. Your advisor must approve any request to underload or overload, and your advisor will certify completion of your major requirements when you apply to graduate. For all other matters, your advisor will offer resources or recommendations, but it will be up to you to decide. When an advisor's signature is required on a form, it is generally just to show that the advisor is aware of what the student is doing and has had the opportunity to offer advice. Your advisor will not make decisions for you; the decisions (and the responsibility for those decisions) will be yours.