Your first faculty advisor at William and Mary is referred to as a “pre-major advisor." You will work with your pre-major advisor from orientation until you declare a major. Pre-major advisors know what makes a liberally educated person, and will help you make informed academic decisions. They are also familiar with campus resources, so can point you to helpful non-academic offices and services. If you run into a problem and do not know where to go, talk to your pre-major advisor.
Your pre-major advisor can:
- Help you understand curriculum requirements and university requirements.
- Guide you to courses and opportunities that can help you meet your goals.
- 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 additional information and assistance.
- Sign paperwork for registration, changing courses, and other purposes.
- Provide advice on declaring a major.
New students are assigned a pre-major advisor during orientation, based on the academic advising questionnaire. Professional advisors in the Office of Academic Advising are responsible for assigning your pre-major faculty advisor.
Your pre-major advisor is a general liberal arts advisor – maybe in the discipline you're considering as a major, and maybe not. All pre-major advisors at William and Mary can help you with curricular questions, and help get you thinking broadly about the process of choosing a major. It is rarely necessary to change your pre-major advisor [pdf].
You are automatically enrolled in a W&M Advising course on Blackboard, with your pre-major advisor the instructor. The course offers resources that students and faculty can consult together. It also supports useful administrative functions, like scheduling advising sessions.
You will meet with your pre-major advisor during orientation and continue to meet with them until you declare your major. Take the initiative and set up an appointment!
Ways to Take Responsibility for Your Advising Experience
- Know your advisor's office hours.
- Schedule periodic meetings with your advisor, especially before Advising Weeks. (Consider confirming the meeting a day in advance.)
- Come to meetings prepared with questions, something to write with and on, 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 progress toward your degree.
- Share with your advisor any other activities in which you are involved.
- Contact your advisor as soon as you are having difficulties.
- Consider carefully your advisor's suggestions, but know that the final decisions are yours.
Sound academic advice can make the crucial difference between an education that is coherent and exciting and one that is fragmented and frustrating. Because you are responsible for meeting academic goals and requirements, you are urged to take full advantage of the help and information your pre-major advisor can offer.
If You Lose Access to Your Pre-major Advisor
If your pre-major advisor can no longer work with you for some reason – research leave, a new job, illness, etc. – you need to find a new advisor. Contact the Office of Academic Advising and one of the professional advisors there can assign one to you. It is up to you to start this process; there is no system in place that alerts the professional staff to your situation.