CAS Academic Advising Center

Have questions after speaking with your academic advisor? We're here to help! Please email us at inadvise@lehigh.edu or come by 120 Williams Hall. Click here for more information about the CAS Advising Center. 

 

Please review Advising FAQs for quick answers to commonly asked questions.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, academic advisors are faculty members. Faculty teach the courses and design the curricula, so who better to guide students in course selection and curriculum navigation?

Are you undecided or do you already have a plan?

Most students who enter the College are undecided about their major. We welcome the undecided student who is curious about a range of possibilities. The undecided student needs to begin exploring the opportunities and to approach the task with an open mind. College courses are taught by instructors who are expert practitioners in their fields, and students can expect such courses to be more stimulating and challenging than what they experienced in high school. In addition, the range of opportunities is much broader than in high school, and contact with new disciplines is a great way to stimulate one's curiosity. Without an open mind, you'll miss a lot of the intellectual excitement we have to offer.

Students who enter the College with a definite plan can begin right away to take courses that advance them in their major, but they also benefit from exploring other possibilities. Many of them will change their minds about their major, so they need options almost as much as undecided students need options.

Who's responsible for this education?

The ultimate responsibility for making course selections and for selecting a major is the student's. We believe that it is essential for students to acquire ownership of their own educations, and key steps in acquiring ownership are to accept responsibility, inform oneself about options and requirements, and make decisions in a timely fashion after weighing the cousequences. Students who develop their autonomous capacity for making decisions are better learners. Advisors provide guidance, but they do not make students' choices for them.

Students who enter the College with a definite plan can begin right away to take courses that advance them in their major, but they also benefit from exploring other possibilities. Many of them will change their minds about their major, so they need options almost as much as undecided students need options.

Advisors and Major Declaration

Entering students are assigned a non-major advisor called the Mentor Advisor who will assist with the early academic decisions a student must make. On declaring a major, a student is assigned to a major advisor--a faculty member in the major program. Students can declare a major whenever they are ready and are required to do so before the start of junior year for the best advice in degree progress.  

Reasonable expectations of the academic advisor

The College academic advisor is quite different from the high school guidance counselor. Advisors are, first and foremost, faculty members. Your advisor will be available to help you with academic issues but will expect you to get involved in your own educational process and to prepare yourself for making choices. Your advisor will help you sort out your options and understand the consequences of decisions in light of rules, procedures, and program requirements but will leave choices to you. Your advisor will generally not solve your problems but will help you understand the issues, consider your resources, and test the feasibility and utility of different solutions.

How the student can get the most out of the advising system

Students need to be informed about program requirements and important deadlines for certain actions (e.g., dropping a course). A student needs to be realistic about the advisor's availability and contact the advisor for assistance in a timely fashion. Email is the best method for initial contact, if only to arrange a time to meet. Course registration is done online at Lehigh, and it is important for the student to know and follow the correct procedures. Registering late or otherwise incorrectly could lead to problems getting the courses you want. The student also needs to be proactive--anticipate the need for decisions and be prepared for making them--and to actively seek information from the advisor, course instructors, and department office staff as needed.

No single advisor knows everything or can answer every question, so it's important for the student to develop a reliable resource network. In addition to the advisor, instructors in courses the student finds interesting, faculty in major programs the student is considering, Career Services staff, Dean of Students personnel, and Associate Deans of the Colleges can be very worthwhile resources.