Academic Advising and Academic Resources

Academic Advising

Academic advising of undergraduates in the A.B. program is centered in the six residential colleges. The dean and director of studies in each college have primary responsibility for the academic advising of freshmen and sophomores and for the non-departmental academic advising of juniors and seniors, whether or not they continue to reside in the colleges. Every freshman in the A.B. program is assigned to a faculty adviser who assists with course selection and other academic matters throughout the year, and who normally continues as the student's adviser through the sophomore year. Freshmen in the B.S.E. program are advised by faculty members in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Each B.S.E. sophomore is assigned an adviser whose area of specialization matches the student's area of interest. In the upperclass years, all students are advised by members of their academic departments who also supervise their junior and senior independent work.

All students are encouraged to make full use of the academic resources of the University and to seek advice on specific academic matters from professors and departmental representatives in their particular areas of interest. The heads of college, deans, directors of studies, and directors of student life in the residential colleges are available for academic advising and for counseling about matters pertaining to other aspects of undergraduate life. The staff of the Office of the Dean of the College is available for discussion of academic questions or problems, and the staff of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students is available for discussion of questions about undergraduate life outside the classroom.

Residential College Advisers

Every year approximately 80 students are selected to serve as residential college advisers (RCAs) who live in each of the six colleges. Under the supervision of the heads of college and directors of student life, RCAs are responsible for advising freshmen and sophomores on many aspects of University life, including those related to diversity. RCAs are assigned approximately 12 to 15 freshman advisees, whom they assist in their adjustment to the University. They are also available to sophomores who wish to seek the counsel of an older student. While RCAs are immediately responsible for the first- and second-year students in their advising area, they also work as part of a small adviser team in order to combine advisers' strengths and give the students a choice of advisers in whom to confide. During the year, RCAs are expected to initiate a variety of activities, to facilitate friendships among advisees, and to foster a safe, inclusive, and welcoming community within the college. Through programming and counseling efforts, the RCA also promotes the community's sensitivity toward the experience of underrepresented groups, as defined by ethnicity, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics. RCAs are familiar with University resources and can refer students to appropriate people and offices as necessary.

Peer Academic Advisers

Peer Academic Advisers (PAAs) are a select group of upperclass students who are available to advise first and second-year students about academic issues in each of the six colleges.  Peer Advisers can talk with students about selecting courses, creating a balanced schedule, exploring potential majors, and taking advantage of academic resources.  Peer advisers are part of the advising community at Princeton, and their student experiences complement the advising available from faculty, the residential college staff, and published materials about various courses, departments and programs.  Although individual PAAs are typically paired with specific RCA groups for first-year students, they are available as a resource to all students in the college.

Curricular and Co-Curricular Resources for Learning

McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning

Princeton is a community of teachers and learners, and the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, located on the third floor of the Frist Campus Center, is a resource for all undergraduates (additional resources for graduate students and faculty are located on the second floor of the Lewis Library). The center offers workshops and individual consultations to support undergraduates as they make critical academic transitions, confront new academic challenges, and develop as learners. Workshops focus on processes of learning and individual consultations assist students in designing integrated sets of strategies that enable them to take full advantage of lectures, precepts, and readings.

McGraw's Group Study Hall and Individual Tutoring offer academic support in a number of introductory courses in which there is a quantitative problem-solving emphasis. Experienced, trained undergraduate tutors are available to guide students through learning strategies for course material, thinking through problem sets and the concepts underlying them, and preparing for exams. Study Hall also provides a good space for study groups to meet or for informal group work with classmates. Individual Tutoring allows for focused and individualized assistance for students who want a more personalized tutoring experience.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center offers student writers free, one-on-one conferences with experienced fellow writers trained to consult on assignments in any discipline.

Located in Lauritzen Hall in Whitman College, the Writing Center welcomes all Princeton students, including: undergraduates working on essays for courses, juniors and seniors working on independent research projects, international students not used to the conventions of American academic writing, graduate students working on seminar papers or dissertations, students writing essays for graduate school applications or fellowships, and students crafting oral presentations.

Writing Center Fellows can help with any part of the writing process: brainstorming ideas, developing a thesis, structuring an argument, or revising a draft. The goal of each conference is to teach strategies that will encourage students to become astute readers and critics of their own work. Although the Writing Center is not an editing or proofreading service, fellows can help students learn techniques for improving sentences and checking mechanics. Writing Center conferences complement, but do not replace, the relationships students have with their teachers and advisers.

Appointments may be scheduled online.

Study Abroad Program

The Study Abroad Program enables qualified students to spend either one term or a full academic year abroad for Princeton credit. The program is open to spring-term sophomores, juniors in either or both terms, and fall-term seniors. Students with a compelling reason and faculty support may petition to study abroad in the fall of sophomore year. To qualify, an applicant must meet the minimum grade requirement established by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing, normally a grade point average of 3.00 for the fall and spring terms of the academic year prior to studying abroad, and present evidence of competence in a foreign language when applying to most programs in non-English-speaking countries. Approval to study abroad may be withheld because of an unsatisfactory University disciplinary record. Students on financial aid at Princeton will continue to receive aid while participating in the Study Abroad Program.

Students should discuss their plans for study abroad with the staff of the Office of International Programs and, when appropriate, with their departmental representative, no later than the beginning of the term prior to the proposed period of foreign study. The Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing approves requests for study abroad. The deadlines for submitting proposals to study abroad are April 30 for the fall term or academic year and October 31 for the spring term.

Applicants must submit a program application, a list of proposed courses, and, if an upperclass student, a plan for completing independent work. As part of the application process, the departmental representative must approve the program of study and arrangements for completing independent work.

Credit for study abroad depends on the completion of approved courses with the grade of C or better, as certified by a transcript or similar report. Independent work, if required, must also be submitted by the assigned deadline.

Study abroad for Princeton credit is also possible during the summer either through Princeton-sponsored programs or programs offered by other institutions. All courses taken through other institutions must be pre-approved for credit.

Community-Based Learning Initiative

The Community-Based Learning Initiative (CBLI) is a curricular program that connects students' academic work with their interests in and concerns for our local, regional, national, and international communities. Community-engaged learning allows students to apply the knowledge and skills they acquire in class to the pressing issues of our time. Depending on the course, this could involve developing a theater piece with local youth, creating a film, or reviewing the scholarly literature on a key issue for the staff of a busy nonprofit organization. CBLI courses may also involve data collection through interviews, surveys, or measurements in the field, or an analysis of previously collected data. Working with faculty members and community leaders, students develop research projects, collect and analyze data, and share their results and conclusions, not just with their professors, but also with organizations and agencies that can make use of the information. Students may do community-engaged projects in courses or, in a more in-depth manner, as part of junior or senior independent work.

Preparation for Teaching

The Program in Teacher Preparation provides information and advice on the numerous pathways to enter teaching at the middle and secondary levels, in both public and private schools. Students interested in earning the program certificate or state license for teaching in public schools should contact the office or consult the program's website for information about Princeton's undergraduate program.

Non-program students should confer with a program staff member if they are considering teaching either as summer interns during college or full time after graduation in independent schools or through alternative pathways in public schools. Information on a wide range of teaching opportunities is available, and the office provides workshops to help students find teaching jobs. Seniors should inquire at the office for information on job opportunities.

The program's introductory courses (TPP 301 Seminar on Student Learning and Methods for Teaching and PSY 307 Educational Psychology) are open to any student interested in teaching. Non-program students interested in taking either course should contact the Teacher Prep office to be added to the course permissions list.

Advising Resources for Post-Graduate Study

Advising for Major Fellowships

Responsibility for advising for major fellowships rests with the director and assistant director of fellowship advising in the Office of International Programs. Designated faculty members and administrators are available to counsel students who are interested in applying for the Churchill, Dale, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Fulbright, Gates, Goldwater, Hertz, Labouisse, Luce, Marshall, National Science Foundation, Rhodes, Sachs, Truman, and other scholarships or fellowships. All except a handful like the Dale, Labouisse, and Sachs, which are available only to Princeton seniors, are awarded on the basis of national competition. Many applications are submitted early in the fall of the senior year, but students are encouraged to attend information sessions and meet with a fellowship adviser in early spring of their junior years. Several awards are available to students prior to their senior year, including the Goldwater scholarships, which are available to sophomores and juniors; and the Truman scholarships, which are available only to juniors. Further information on the fellowships and eligibility requirements and the names of the advisers for each fellowship are available from the Office of International Programs.

Preparation for Graduate Study

Students intending to pursue graduate studies should seek guidance from faculty advisers and departmental representatives throughout their undergraduate careers. In general, for admission to a Ph.D. or academic master's degree program in a particular discipline, candidates must show scholarly distinction or definite promise in their undergraduate studies in that discipline or in a closely related one. Moreover, as fields of study become more interdisciplinary in nature, applicants from a relatively wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds may be encouraged to apply. (Interested students should check directly with the particular department or program.) Graduate programs normally require official transcripts of all prior undergraduate and previous graduate work, three letters of recommendation from faculty who know the applicant well, a detailed statement of academic purpose, and scores from the Graduate Record Examination General Test. Individual departments may additionally require scores from a relevant subject test. International students whose native language is not English may be asked to take and submit scores from an English language test such as TOEFL or IELTS, or may be required to submit a "proficiency in English" form. Students applying to joint Ph.D. and professional school programs may also be asked to take the GMAT or LSAT, or other similar exam. Many programs also require a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language. Increasingly, graduate admissions committees require, in the case of humanities and social science disciplines, samples of the applicant's written work and, in the case of science and engineering disciplines, evidence of prior research experience.

Preparation for Law School

Staff members in the Office of Career Services assist students as they consider pursuing law schools. To support law school applicants, Career Services works with applicants on all aspects of the application process, including writing a personal statement, acquiring recommendation letters, and creating a list of schools. Students receive counseling on admission, scholarships, joint degree programs, and specializations.

Because the American Bar Association neither requires nor recommends a specific "prelaw" curriculum, students may pursue their own academic interests. This requires thoughtful consideration of their interests and goals. Career services works with applicants as they consider internships and volunteer experiences to gain more knowledge about legal work and professional life. For the most competitive law schools, pursuing rigorous studies and maintaining a strong scholastic record are highly desirable. Applicants are urged to review the "Prelaw" material under the Graduate School section of the Career Services website and schedule an appointment with a career adviser.

Preparation for Business School

The Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is a professional degree that provides course work and training in a variety of business and management disciplines. MBA programs are generally offered as full-time (typically two years) or as part-time (three years) to accommodate working professionals. While there are a number of institutions that offer the MBA, the more competitive universities do not commonly accept applicants without several years of relevant post-undergraduate work experience.

Business schools do not require a specific undergraduate course of study. However, they do place value on well-developed oral and written expression, and demonstration of analytical and quantitative abilities. Applicants should also possess experience gained from internships, study abroad, fellowships, or post-college employment. Students considering an MBA should make use of the many resources available on the Career Services website or schedule an appointment with a career adviser.

Preparation for Medical, Dental, and Other Health Professions Schools

The Office of Health Professions Advising (HPA) encourages all students who are considering a career in the health professions to familiarize themselves with the resources of the office as soon as possible. A strong application will demand careful planning, both of one's curriculum and one's academic year and summer activities. For detailed information about pre-health course requirements, please see "Preparing for a Career in the Health Professions," which is available as a handout in the Office of Health Professions Advising and on the HPA website under "Pre-Health Prep." Some health professional schools have unique requirements, so all pre-health students should meet with one of the advisers at HPA early on in their college years to discuss both academic and non-academic preparation.