The first-year student advising program embodies a concern for the individual student and has as its goal the promotion of successful adjustment to college. It also aims to address personal and intellectual development so that each student may realize his or her fullest potential.
First-year students do not register for a major when they enter Ursinus College. They may declare an area of interest, but they are not assigned to a major adviser until they declare a major, usually in the spring of their first year (this is the earliest that they can declare; they must declare by spring of their sophomore year.) Faculty members from all the disciplines serve as first-year student advisers. Students meet with an adviser during spring orientation; when they will begin the process of selecting courses for the fall semester. At orientation, students have time to discuss their expectations and goals with their advisers. During the August orientation, advisers meet with their advisees to review fall schedules, make any needed changes, answer any last-minute questions, and set up meeting times with their advisees for the fall.
Regular advising meetings allow the adviser to monitor a student's adjustment to the college and help in the identification of early warning signs of academic or personal difficulties. As students settle in and as a rapport develops between adviser and advisee, meetings will normally shift to a student-initiated, as-needed basis. Advisers help and encourage students to deal with personal and academic issues of adjustment. Students should be ready to use the adviser as the first, not last resort when they encounter difficulties. The adviser is thus able to serve as a referral resource and should be able to identify appropriate departments or people who could help freshmen in adjusting to the college experience.
First-year students traditionally declare a major in the middle of their second semester at Ursinus. Students should meet with their adviser to discuss options. The adviser encourages them to meet with faculty in their intended major department to find out more about the program. Responsibility for academic advising will shift to the student's major department after the spring declaration date. Students who do not declare a major stay with their first-year adviser until they are ready to do so. All students must declare a major no later than during the spring semester of their sophomore year. Students should be aware that in some departments it is easy to complete the requirements for graduation if they postpone the declaration of the major until the sophomore year. In other departments, the sequential nature of the program may make this more difficult. A careful reading of the First-Year Advising Handbook should help students and advisers as they discuss the various options.