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A guide through the academic wilderness of Princeton: Faculty advisers offer insight

Don't worry if you have no idea what courses you want to register for in the fall — your academic advisers may help you feel a little less clueless.

Under a system implemented in 1997, approximately 60 faculty members serve as advisers, with each counseling about 30 freshmen and sophomores.

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In each college, 10 faculty members advise freshmen while five are assigned to sophomores. All advisers are also faculty fellows in their colleges.

Ten upperclass peer advisers — who are matched with freshmen with similar academic interests — also serve in each college.

Students say they believe the system is effective. "[The advisers] were very helpful in working out my schedule," Miriam Platten '01 said. "I would've freaked if that didn't happen."

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The chief adviser in each college is the director of studies, whose duties include coordinating the faculty advisers. The director is also available for day-to-day consultation with students.

Before the advent of the residential college system in 1983, there were no directors of studies, and academic advising was coordinated centrally through West College.

"One of the main purposes of the college system is to bring faculty and students together," said Associate Dean of the College Nancy Kanach, who is responsible for coordinating the work of the five directors of studies.

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One of the major duties of the academic advisers is to approve students' course selections for each semester. However, like the directors of studies, faculty advisers are available on a year-round basis for consultation.

Kanach said the director of studies, in addition to advising, can serve as "a referral service," directing students to the person who could answer a specific question.

Seminars

The freshman seminar program, designed to further enrich the academic life of the residential colleges, will enter its 11th year this fall.

The expanding program now offers about 15 to 20 seminars each semester. The courses — which are all sponsored by specific residential colleges — give first-year students the opportunity to work more closely with senior faculty than they would in a large lecture course.

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Enrollment is limited to about 15 students in each seminar. An information booklet that describes the topics for this coming semester will be mailed to the Class of 2004 during the summer.