Your faculty adviser is your primary source of academic guidance and approves your course selection and course changes. As an experienced teacher and scholar, your faculty adviser can guide you through the Princeton curriculum and help you take advantage of your academic opportunities. You will be required to meet with your adviser throughout the year at key advising periods to make your initial course selection or discuss changes to your schedule, but you should take the time to meet with him or her at other moments to share how you’re doing, benefit from his or her wisdom, or just chat informally! Your adviser will be happy to see you!
Faculty advisers in both the AB and the BSE program are chosen with a mind to match each freshman with an adviser who has expertise in one of his or her general areas of interest. Should students have very specific questions about a department or program--or should they become interested in a different area of the curriculum--there are always other sources of information and advice. Advising is not one-stop shopping! In fact, one of the most useful skills you can develop here is the ability to seek out the specific advice and support that you need. Of course, your academic adviser can help here too: Although AB advisers cannot be expected to know the answer to every specific question freshmen and sophomores may have, they will always be able to guide you toward the correct answer.
AB Peer Academic Advisers, BSE Interactors, and Graduate Student Advisers
AB Peer Academic Advisers (PAAs) and BSE interactors are outstanding juniors and seniors who assist your faculty adviser during the initial advising and course registration period. They complement your faculty adviser’s advice by providing an informed student perspective on selecting classes and successfully navigating academics at Princeton. In addition, their fields of study are usually complementary to those of your faculty adviser, so they may be able to provide different insights into particular fields of interest to you. After all freshmen are in their classes, PAAs become associated with a residence group, where they join the RCA and a graduate student adviser as resources for the students in that suite or on that floor.
Graduate Student Advisers are often (but not always) Resident Graduate Students--which means that they live in Wilson College and are involved with a variety of programs and activities. As members of the advising team, however, they function in the same way as PAAs--they provide a rich source of information, as well as a different perspective on many academic choices.
Your Dean and Director of Studies
Your Dean and Director of Studies oversee the advising program at Wilson. They are excellent sources of advice on all matters, and they can also approve your course forms when your faculty adviser is not available. In addition, they are responsible for assigning peer tutors when needed, approving summer courses, and authorizing Dean’s Date extensions, course deficiencies, changes of concentration, and changes of degree between AB and BSE. Normally, Dr. Axcelson works most closely with freshmen and Dean Caswell-Klein works most closely with seniors, but they work closely together as an advising team and both follow your progress through all four years. So, if you can’t reach one, you should feel free to speak to the other. Peter Bogucki oversees the BSE faculty advisers and is an excellent source of advice on all matters relating to the BSE program. Dean Bogucki initiates any degree changes between AB and BSE (though you can always consult with other advisers before seeing him) and he signs summer course approvals for BSE students after they have received departmental approval for the course.
Departmental Representatives (or “dep reps”) are the faculty members who oversee undergraduate study in their departments. If you have any questions about departmental courses, course placement, or major requirements, they will be happy to help you. Once you choose your major, the dep rep of your department will become your principal adviser.
If you are thinking about taking a particular course, the best source of information about it is probably the instructor. So don’t hesitate to contact him or her to ask a question about course content, requirements, or enrollment. Professors are always pleased to hear of a student’s interest in their class!
There are an array of resources to provide you with pre-professional advising. The Office of Health Professions Advising provides information on preparing for medical school as well as other health-related fields. (Prof. Ronald Comer in the Department of Psychology advises students interested in mental health careers.) Normally, students begin fulfilling pre-med requirements in the fall of freshman year, especially if they intend to attend medical school directly after Princeton, so we recommend that you consult with Health Professions Advising early in your freshman year to begin planning. Your faculty adviser will also be able to advise you on the basic pre-med curriculum. Pre-law and business school advising are housed in the Office of Career Services, which is also a great resource for information on all other career options and how they relate to your academics. Finally, the Program in Teacher Preparation Program at Princeton not only advises students on careers in education but trains students to become certified K-12 teachers. A good description of these offices can be found on the advising site of the Office of the Dean of the College.
In surveys given to graduating seniors, study abroad consistently ranks as their most rewarding experience as Princeton students. While Princeton certainly offers enough amazing experiences to fill at least eight semesters, spending a semester or two (or at least a summer) abroad will enrich your studies and life experience in truly special ways. Because of Princeton’s requirements, especially independent work, study abroad may require a degree of advance planning, but the Office of International Programs will be happy to help you with this, along with departmental representatives for your current or potential departments, your dean and director of studies, or your faculty adviser.