Frequently Asked Questions
Your pre-major advisor will help you explore your intellectual interests, translate those interests into course selections, understand curricular requirements, and discuss your developing academic plan. You'll work closely with your pre-major advisor until you declare your major.
Your responses to the academic advising questionnaire that you submitted in May will be used to match you with a pre-major advisor, a faculty advisor who will work with you until you declare a major at W&M. Professional advisors in the Office of Academic Advising can help to smooth your academic transition to the College and are responsible for assigning your "pre-major" faculty advisor.
Students are welcome to speak with faculty in any department; however, students should only request to change their pre-major advisor under special circumstances. If you are experiencing difficulty with your pre-major advisor, please contact the Office of Academic Advising.
Remember that the “pre-major” advisor is a general liberal arts advisor and it's not always possible to match students with an advisor in their intended major. All pre-major advisors at William and Mary are trained to help you with curricular questions, as well as start the process of major exploration.
During Orientation, you'll find out who your pre-major advisor is and attend a required meeting with them. If you do not meet with your advisor during Orientation, you will be BLOCKED from registering for a full course load for the following semester. You'll be required to meet with your pre-major advisor at least two more times during your first year at W&M-- although we recommend that you touch base with them much more frequently than that and continue meeting regularly up until your declare your major.
Once you find out who your pre-major advisor is during Orientation, your Peer Advisor will help you sign up for an advising appointment. During your first meeting with your pre-major advisor, be sure to discuss the easiest way to contact them and schedule appointments.
- Your unofficial transcript
- Your academic plan
- Your degree evaluation
- Your proposed course list for the following semester
You can meet with your academic advisor often and discuss things that impact your academic and overall college life. During the first meeting you will discuss your interests and proposed course schedule. At the end of this meeting your academic advisor will provide you with PIN number that will enable you to finalize your schedule and complete registration. Be sure to arrive to your first meeting prepared with a list of questions and topics for discussion. Here are a few suggestions!
- Introduce yourself. Ask your advisor about him or her. Use this opportunity to start to establish a mentoring relationship with your advisor.
- Talk about your academic background. What courses did you like in high school? What challenges do you anticipate as you enter college?
- Discuss your list of courses for upcoming semester
- Talk about the co-curricular activities you're interested in pursuing
- Ask about research opportunities, study abroad, internships, etc.
- Review important deadlines for the semester
- Ask about communication. Does your advisor prefer email, texting, telephone conversations, in-person appointments?
You may declare your Major after you have earned 39 academic credit hours, to include transfer, advanced placement, and International Baccalaureate credit accepted by the College. You must declare your major when you have earned 54 academic credit hours at the College. Transfer and new students entering W&M with 54 credits or more are not required to declare their major until they have completed one semester at the College.
How to Manage Your Advisor
Advice from Dr. Sharon Zuber, Director, Writing Resources Center
Advising is a partnership between advisor and advisee, one that is central to academic success. The most important reason to learn how to manage your advisor is to make the most of your undergraduate career. Remember, many things compete for your advisor’s attention—teaching, papers, grants, proposals, committees, research, other students, outside opportunities, family, etc.
Take charge as you think about your academic experience and provide your advisor with honest and complete information about your skills, interests, and what sort of help you need.
Your faculty advisor can:
• Help monitor your progress toward your degree
• Help you select and register for courses
• Serve as someone you can talk to when you need advice or assistance
• Serve as a link to other faculty and staff who can provide information and assistance that your advisor cannot
• Provide you with information about, and help you understand, university policies or direct you to those who can provide that information and assistance
• Sign important paperwork for registration, changing courses, and other purposes
Ways to take responsibility and manage your advisor:
• Know your advisor's office hours
• Schedule periodic meetings with your advisor, especially prior to advising week! (Consider confirming the meeting a day in advance)
• Come to meetings prepared (with questions, something to write with and on, having reviewed your Degree Evaluation, etc., and take notes)
• Be aware of, and respect, registration and major/minor declaration deadlines
• Keep track of your courses, requirements, and your progress towards your degree
• Share with your advisor about any co-curricular activities you are involved in that might affect your academic choices or academic performance
• Contact your advisor as soon as you are having difficulties
• Consider carefully your advisor's suggestions, but know that the final decisions are yours!