New Student Guide

Advising and Registration

New students will receive an invitation to meet with their Orientation Advisors during the week of Orientation. The purpose of this meeting is to begin a discussion about your academic and personal goals for your next few years. Each of you will  fill out a Self-Assessment and Learning Goals questionnaire, and this will be the starting point for that discussion. A second goal for the meeting is to register for your Fall courses. Each of you will be assigned to a First Year Seminar class. You will not be able to change that class.  It will be drawn from one of the ranked choices of seminars you provide early in the summer. 

Now what about the other three classes? Prior to your first meeting with your Orientation Advisor, each student is expected to have created a set of potential courses for the Fall Semester using the Online Course Scheduler. The Registrar's office has great information about how to use this tool here. We encourage you to choose more than three courses so that you can have options when you meet with your advisor. Once you have selected courses that you feel are real possibilities, you should transfer this set of preferred courses to the online registration system in ACDATA. You will be sent explicit instructions about how to do this in the late summer email. Orientation Advisors will help students narrow down their choices, answer questions about major requirements and placements, and help students design a course schedule that best fits their academic interests and needs. A list is provided by the Registrar of courses that are already overenrolled and you are encouraged not to (but not prohibited from) elect these courses. Advisors will approve individual courses (usually more than three) and give students electronic permission to register. In a separate step, you log in and submit the three courses you most want to take and then you are officially registered. At this first meeting with your Advisor, you will also set up a time for a second meeting during the first two weeks of the semester and before the end of the ADD/DROP deadline.

Should you find yourself closed out of courses that are overenrolled at the time of Registration, you may need to swap in one of your back-up courses that your Orientation Advisor has already approved. You may decide to switch in to a new class for which you have not received permission from your Advisor, which will take a second trip or email to your Advisor for them to give you permission for this class. Again, once permission is received, you actually register in a second step by logging into AC Data and submitting this course. This is also an opportunity to have a follow-up conversation with advisors if any questions regarding academics or courses have come up during the week of Orientation.

During the first two weeks of a semester, the ADD/DROP period allows students to make changes in their course schedules once classes are underway. First-year students should be aware, however, that making changes after the first several class meetings may make it difficult to catch up with new course material. Even if a student signs up for a class after it begins, he or she is still responsible for all assignments and readings in the course from the first day of class. Any difficulties or conflicts with courses should immediately be brought to the attention of a student’s advisor or the Dean of New Students. 

College Advisors
Students select courses, discuss academic difficulties, and manage their major requirements with the help of a faculty advisor. Students begin their academic careers at Amherst with an assigned Orientation Advisor, who guides them through the initial registration period. 

Later in the Fall semester, students are assigned a College Advisor whose area of expertise is a good match for the student's academic interests. In many cases, this may be their Orientation Advisor. The hope is that the College Advisor will remain with a student until the student declares a major in their sophomore year. If a faculty member goes on leave the student may have to be assigned another College Advisor.

Students are encouraged to visit advisors for matters of course advising and registration, but in addition, faculty advisors are prepared to assist advisees in finding resources to address academic difficulties, and referring students to the class deans when necessary. Course instructors and faculty advisors should be considered a student’s first step in addressing academic questions or issues.