Meeting Your Advisees

Delete Two Meetings during Course Selection Period

It is recommended that you meet individually with each of your first-years advisees twice during course selection period and before schedules are due.  

The first, lengthier meeting will be dedicated to getting to know them as people and as students; their plans and goals for the spring term; ideas about possible areas of concentration or the major; and a discussion of which and how many courses they are considering this term, and why (students should be discouraged from considering an excess number of courses, say, more than 8-9).  This meeting is best held towards the beginning of course selection period, as that is the moment when their ideas may still be fluid and your advice will be most effective.  

The second meeting should be held towards the end of course selection period to review your advisees’ final (or nearly final) schedules, check for radical changes in direction since your previous meeting, and, if you are satisfied with the outcome, sign their schedules.  


Your goals for the spring-term meetings include helping students process their fall semesters, think about summer activities in a timely manner, and choose a spring course schedule based on a realistic assessment of their abilities and preparation. (Click here for an expanded discussion of the Goals of Spring-term First-Year Advising Meetings.) You might even care to take another look at the Matriculation Data and Entrance Record (MDER), which you can view by logging into your personal advising page, to review their general information on the geographic, personal, academic background of your students.  You should certainly look up their fall grades and be prepared to ask your advisees their assessment of their fall-term courses and their performance in them.

You will want to help undecided students plan a schedule that keeps their options open for their eventual choice of a major, while referring students with specific departmental interests to directors of undergraduate studies, your colleagues in other departments, or to residential college deans. Do not hesitate to refer students with specific questions about distributional requirements, acceleration, and premedical requirements to the dean, if you are not able to answer them yourself.

Striking a Balance

Your students may need you to help them appreciate the need to strike a balance between academic commitments and extracurricular opportunities. In some cases, this will mean asking whether they have got themselves overly involved in clubs and activities in the fall; in others, it will simply mean asking whether they intend to maintain the same level of activity. In the fall, you helped your advisees think about new ways to approach their work load in a college-appropriate manner; some students will need a refresher on time management skills. In other cases, your advisees will present you with overly ambitious course loads. Emphasize to first-year the appropriateness of taking at least one small course that allows them to participate in discussions. Studies have shown that students do considerably better overall when they enroll in at least one small course that excites them.

Advisers outside of STEM fields matched with STEM-ready students may interpret those students’ schedules as overly ambitious.  In many cases, however, STEM majors require certain sequences or combinations of courses, even in first year.  Because STEM students have special advising needs, they should be encouraged to seek the advice of science colleagues or from departments. It is particularly important that students considering a major in the sciences begin the appropriate foundational work during the first year. This will normally include one course in mathematics along with one course in the natural sciences and its accompanying laboratory course during the first semester. Students in the biological sciences normally complete the general chemistry requirement or begin organic chemistry during the first year and, if appropriate, begin coursework in biology. Students in the physical sciences and in engineering normally pursue course work in physics, chemistry, or both.

How many courses or credits?  What’s needed for promotion to sophomore status?

Most first-years were encouraged to take four courses (4 or 4.5 credits) in the first term of enrollment. Generally speaking, that means that they will aim for five courses in the spring.  Yale requires 36 term courses to qualify for the B.A. or B.S. degree: 36 ÷ 4 years of study = 9 courses per year.  

Ask your advisee to consult with his or her residential college dean if he or she fears falling short of the eight credits needed by the end of first year in order to be promoted to sophomore status.

Signing the schedule

Be sure you leave your students with a clear sense of when you will be available for a second/final meeting before the course schedule deadline so that you can sign their schedules.

What If I Cannot Meet with My Advisees during Course Selection Period

Being present on campus during course selection period is expected of all first-year advisers.  However, unforeseen conflicts may arise. If you are unavailable during the first ten days of the semester, please contact your residential college dean as soon as possible so that he or she may make alternative arrangements.