This page provides information about academic advising for new students and how to plan for your first year of study at Lawrence.
Academic Advising for New Students
At Lawrence, we believe that students should receive individual attention from faculty members both as instructors and as academic advisors. Advisors help students explore the curriculum, plan their studies, and achieve the most from their Lawrence experience.
Assigning Your Academic Advisor
All new students are required to submit the Advisor Information Form. For fall matriculation, the form should be submitted by July 10.
The Director of Advising assigns faculty advisors for new students based on the academic interests noted on the Advisor Information Form, taking into account current advising loads, planned sabbaticals, and other factors. While your initial advisor may not be in your intended major, you can be assured that you will get good advice on planning your studies and adjusting to college life. By the spring of the sophomore year, you will declare a major and select an advisor in your major department, who will guide you the rest of the way to graduation.
The name of your advisor will appear in your Voyager account under Academic History later in the summer after advising assignments are complete.
Meeting with Your Academic Advisor
During Welcome Week, you will meet your advisor at the Advising Luncheon and learn more about the role your advisor will play as well as your own responsibilities in the advising relationship. You will also schedule an individual advising appointment for later in the week.
At the advising appointment, you and your advisor will discuss your responses on the Advisor Information Form, review your registration choices for the fall term (if you pre-registered), make course selections for the winter and spring terms, and address any questions you have as you begin the exciting experience of a liberal education. You will check in with your advisor again in the middle of fall term and throughout the year to assess your progress, make changes to your plans or schedule, or connect with other university resources.
In the middle of your sophomore year, you will find an advisor in your intended major (who may be your initial advisor or a new advisor) who can help you plan your course schedule for the junior year before advance registration starts in April. All students must declare a major by the start of the junior year, and you may change your major and advisor at any time.
For more information, see Advising FAQ.
Choosing Your Classes
The Academic Program
Please read this information before completing the Voyager registration.
The first step in planning your academic program is to understand the makeup of a Lawrence education, which is described in the course catalog under "Liberal Arts Learning" and "The Structure of the Curriculum." During your years at Lawrence you will study broadly and intensively, so take time to become familiar with the course catalog, which presents the many opportunities available to you and defines the requirements for your Lawrence degree. As you read the catalog, think about what you want to accomplish during your college years.
Placement exams are required for students with previous background who intend to continue study in world languages, biology, chemistry, math (calculus), and music (music theory). See the sidebar on Course Placement & Placement Exams.
Course Numbers and Levels
Lawrence uses a prefix and 3-digit number for every course (for example, ENG 150 Literary Analysis is an introductory course in the English department). Course levels are distinguished as introductory (100-199), foundation/gateway (200-399), advanced (400-599), and capstone/Senior Experience (600-699). Department may vary in the details of their course numbering, as described in the department sections of the catalog.
Each time a course is offered, it is listed with a 4-digit class reference number (CRN) in the class schedule. The CRN is a random code assigned to a particular section of a course during a particular term. It is used to register for the correct section and has no other meaning.
New Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Students
The registrar will place you in fall and winter term Freshman Studies (11:10-12:20 MWF). You will register for two more fall courses during summer advance registration, and after you meet with your advisor during Welcome Week, you will update your fall registration and add two courses for winter and three for spring.
Your first-year goal should be to take courses that will help you plan your subsequent three years of study. Use the online course schedule (on the registrar's website) to explore introductory (100-level) course offerings across the university. If you have a major in mind, choose a course in that area to see if it suits you. Balance this with a course in an area you have never studied before. Take a mix of course types (lab, reading-intensive, hands-on) each term to balance your workload and provide variety to your days.
Some areas of study have recommended course sequences for the first year. Students planning to major in math or computer science should complete the calculus sequence by taking MATH 140/150/160. Students planning to major in physics should take MATH 140 (fall), MATH 150 or PHYS 151 (winter), and MATH 160 or PHYS 160 (spring). Students planning to major in the humanities should complete a language sequence the first year. All students are encouraged to take placement tests for languages, math, science, or music theory, and to plan ahead for study abroad.
Choosing a major
You do not need to declare a major until late in the sophomore year, so take time to explore different areas of study. You will satisfy many requirements along the way and build a broad foundation in the liberal arts that will serve you well in any career.
General education requirements
Lawrence requires you to take at least one course in every division (arts, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences), so having variety in your schedule will help you do this. Lawrence also requires course that focus on global (G) and domestic (D) diversity, so you might take a course with one of these designations. Competency in quantitative reasoning (Q) is easily satisfied in math, science, or economics; students who plan to study arts or humanities will want to look for a Q course such as microeconomics or statistics. Competencies in writing (W) or speaking (S) are usually satisfied by courses required for the major. Pursue your interests in the freshman year, and when you plan for the sophomore year, you can look to see what general education requirements still need to be fulfilled.
All students in the B.A. program must demonstrate intermediate competency (at the 200-level or above) in a language other than English. If you did not study a language in high school, take the full three-term sequence (101/102/201) in your freshman or sophomore year. If you previously studied French, German, Spanish, or Russian, take the online placement exam to determine where to start in the sequence. For other languages, check with the department for proper placement. If you went to high school in a language other than English or are a native speaker or signer of another language, you can satisfy the requirement in other ways. Look under Academic Procedures and Regulations in the course catalog for more information.
Many non-music majors at Lawrence participate in music ensembles and/or take private lessons. Check with the Conservatory of Music office during Welcome Week to see about auditions or interviews. Non-music majors are accommodated after Conservatory students have been placed. There is a nominal fee for private lessons each term.
If you are interested in majoring in music as a Bachelor of Arts student, you may wish to consider taking the beginning music theory sequence (theory/sightsinging/aural skills), basic keyboard skills, lessons, and/or an ensemble. For more information see the Conservatory of Music website.
New Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) Students
Students in the Bachelor of Music program have a set schedule for the first year with one elective in the spring. The registrar will place you in fall and winter term Freshman Studies (11:10-12:20 MWF), where you will develop your writing and discussion skills while being introduced to the liberal arts. The Conservatory of Music will place you in a music theory sequence (theory/sightsinging/aural skills), basic keyboard skills (for non-piano majors), lessons and studio classes based on your audition and performance on the music theory placement exam. All Bachelor of Music students must also participate in a large ensemble, with placement determined by audition during Welcome Week. Finally, after you meet with your advisor during Welcome Week, you will register for one elective course in the spring. This should be a college course that will help you develop your intellectual interests and academic pursuits.
New Double-Degree (B.A./B.Mus.) Students
Double-degree students are in a five-year program that leads to both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees. Most double-degree students start with the first-year sequence in the Conservatory of Music described under New Bachelor of Music Students above, choosing one elective course in the college for the spring. You may, however, choose to take one college course each term during your first year by reducing your lessons to 3 units. In rare cases, student have deferred the music theory sequence to the second year and pursued first-year college study as described under New Bachelor of Arts Students above. It is important to plan carefully to meet the requirements for both degrees, so you will meet with both your conservatory and college advisors during Welcome Week before you register for classes.
New Visiting International Students (Non-Degree)
As a visiting international student, you will meet with your advisor during Welcome Week and then register for classes. To prepare for this meeting, look at the course offerings in many areas of study and select possible courses that match your interests and class standing, being sure to check the course level and prerequisites. Visiting students are not required to take Freshman Studies, but you may find Freshman Studies useful for improving your English skills and learning about the liberal arts, so if you are interested in taking Freshman Studies, contact the Freshman Studies Director for placement.
New Waseda Students (Non-Degree)
Visiting Waseda students have a set schedule of courses for the first term and then register for additional courses after meeting with an advisor during Welcome Week. The fall courses provide intensive study in academic English and an introduction to American education and to Lawrence. Courses in winter and spring provide further development in academic English and options for liberal arts study with other Lawrence students. See the Waseda CS-L Program website for more information.