Selecting an Adviser

What Is a College Adviser?

Yale refers to pre-major advisers — whether a faculty or staff member, or whether your original adviser or an adviser you select after your first term of enrollment as “college advisers.” After you declare a major, the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) in that major, or the DUS’s designee, becomes your new adviser. See also Your College Adviser.

Selecting a New College Adviser

Your residential college dean selected an adviser for you from among the fellows in your residential college before you set foot on campus. Yale College allows students may remain with that same college adviser throughout their first four semesters of enrollment (i.e., through the end of the sophomore year). On the other hand, beginning in their second semester of enrollment, students are also allowed to opt for a new college adviser .

We hope that you have meaningful advising conversations with the college adviser that your residential college dean selected for you. In fact, some students find that the original college adviser match was so successful that they want to continue that advising relationship through the end of the sophomore year or until they declare a major. Other students, however, find it useful to select a new college adviser, especially for their sophomore year, from among of their fields of academic interest or prospective majors.

The sophomore year, in fact, is normally a time of refining one’s ideas about a plan of study or a major. Your original college adviser might be the best person to guide you toward your goals, but you might also feel that you would benefit from a faculty adviser familiar with the preparation needed for a particular major or someone who can speak to your academic or other interests.

Some first-year students  opt for a new adviser because:

  • they’ve clicked with a faculty member — perhaps an instructor — during their first term
  • they have a good idea of a potential field of study and seek to be advised by a faculty member in that field 

Regardless of whether your original college adviser was a faculty member of a staff member, your new adviser must be a faculty member. For example:

  • a faculty adviser from a major that interests you 
  • a faculty adviser whose course you took this year  
  • a faculty adviser you particularly like or with whom you already have an advising relationship

Most faculty members welcome the opportunity to advise undergraduates.

Advising for Students Who Declare a Major

Once a student declares a major, the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) or the DUS’s designee becomes the student’s  adviser, replacing the student’s college (pre-major) adviser. This is because an undergraduate student may have only one adviser at a time.

STEM majors often declare a major during their first year of enrollment; non-STEM majors often wait until into their sophomore year.

Students are encouraged to take the change of adviser into consideration before declaring a major.

Procedure for Changing Advisers

All first-year students will be asked to submit a Sophomore-Year College Advising form in April of their first-year. It allows first-years the opportunity to confirm their current college (pre-major) adviser or opt for a new faculty college adviser.

First-years in their second term of enrollment or sophomores may also opt for a new college adviser at other times of the year using the change-of-adviser form listed below:

  • introduce yourself to your potential new adviser in person or by email and ask — based on a course you took or a shared interest — if the faculty member will serve as your adviser
    • you might also speak to the faculty member after class …
    • … or make an appointment, or drop in during office hours
  • fill in the change-of-adviser form; obtain your new adviser’s permission via email; and submit both to your residential college dean’s office
  • inform your current adviser that you’ve opted for a new adviser and thank them for their service. You can find your current adviser’s name and email on your Degree Audit page

Also Keep in Mind

  • Students planning to major in a STEM field should consult the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) about advising in that field
  • A student’s initial college adviser may be a faculty or staff member; however, if you opt to change advisers, the new adviser must be a faculty member
  • You may change advisers no more than once per term (unless by permission of your residential college dean)
  • There’s no deadline for submitting a change-of-adviser form
► Click here for a change-of-adviser form