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.
Freshmen meet with their pre-major advisors at least three times during the first year (required), and we recommend that you touch base with them more frequently and continue to meet with them until you declare your major. Take the initiative and set up an appointment!
Your First Advising Meeting
Your peer advisor can help you set up your first meeting with your pre-major advisor during orientation. If you don't meet with your advisor during orientation, you will be blocked from registering for a full-time course load.
During your first meeting you will discuss academic, personal, and professional goals; review the academic regulations and requirements of the College; and plan a specific program of study. Take charge as you think about your academic experience. Provide your advisor with honest and complete information about your skills, interests, and what sort of help you need. Understand the expectations of both you and your advisor. Be sure to arrive at 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 herself. 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 proposed list of courses for the upcoming semester.
- Talk about the other activities you're interested in pursuing.
- Ask about research, study abroad, internships, and other academic opportunities.
- Review important deadlines for the semester.
- Ask about communication. Does your advisor prefer to make appointments via email, texting, or the Blackboard advising course?
You are responsible for arranging two more meetings with your advisor during your first year, and you might find that additional meetings are helpful. Advising Week is the week before registration. Meet with your advisor during this week to plan out the next semester. It may be helpful to have the following information with you during the pre-registration meetings:
- Your academic plan
- Your degree evaluation
- Your unofficial transcript
- Your proposed course list for the following semester
During the pre-registration meetings, you will recieve another PIN number to use when registering for your next semester.
Ways to Take Responsibility for Your Advising Experience
- Know your advisor's office hours.
- Schedule periodic meetings with your advisor, especially before Advising Week. (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.