During your first two years, you will explore potential majors through coursework and conversations with your pre-major advisor, advisors in the College Office, fellow students and faculty, and especially the undergraduate chairs of departments and programs of interest.

This collaborative approach allows you to fully realize your academic potential and create a course of study unique to you.

In the summer before coming to Penn, students are assigned a pre-major advisor who is a member of either the School of Arts and Sciences faculty or the Penn professional staff. The pre-major advisor assists students in choosing courses each semester until declaring a major and in planning their overall program. Students are also assigned a College Contact who is a member of the professional advising staff in the College Office and backs up the pre-major advisor and their advisees throughout their time at Penn. These advisors can answer questions and help students navigate all the resources that are available to them.

Students are encouraged to develop a good working relationship with their pre-major advisor and to seek counsel as often as necessary. They are also encouraged to reach out to their College Contact and to seek the support of the College Office in 120 Cohen Hall throughout their undergraduate career.

Student Responsibility in advising


Peer advisors are an integral part of the College's Advising program and, along with the pre-major advisor, are the first point of contact for incoming College students. They provide a student perspective in the College and assist first-year students in making the transition from high school to Penn by sharing their strategies for academic success and knowledge of campus resources. The Peer Advising program also encourages peers to develop an appreciation for the diversity of Penn's community through training and exposure to varied student, staff and faculty experiences and perspectives. Finally, the program promotes Penn resources as a vehicle by which students grow and are enriched academically, socially and personally. Peer advisors contact advisees during the Advance Registration period in the summer and remain accessible to their advisees by email and/or phone throughout the rest of the summer and into the academic year.

Current College students who are not in their final year may apply to be peer advisors and are selected and trained by the College Office and Peer Managers. The peer advising program is coordinated by Chris Donovan and Jason Breyan in the College Office.

Peer advisors provide the following kinds of assistance to first-year students:

  • Provide a student perspective on academic life in the College.
  • Share their knowledge of campus resources, strategies for academic success, and experiences overcoming challenges.
  • Help facilitate conversations between advisees and pre-major advisors.
  • Help advisees become familiar with the Advance Registration process.
  • Provide information about opportunities and academic pursuits outside of the classroom.
  • The Major Advising Program (MAP) allows students to contact declared majors and learn about the major from a student’s perspective. Third- and fourth-year peer advisors also serve as MAP advisors.

All students in the College have a College Contact who is a member of the professional advising staff in the College Office assigned to them when they enter Penn.  Students are welcome and encouraged to speak with their College Contact about academic planning, finding the right resources, completing degree requirements, taking full advantage of academic opportunities or any issues getting in the way of their academic success.

After declaring a major, students are assigned an academic advisor affiliated with the major department or program. The major advisor may be the undergraduate chair or another faculty or staff member in the major department or program. This advisor will assist in planning the major, identifying research opportunities in the major and discussing fellowship and post-graduate opportunities in the academic field.

Students should still meet with an advisor in the College Office periodically to discuss their overall progress toward the degree as well as special academic options and programs.

Each College house has a dean, director and staff available to answer questions and direct students to additional resources.

CaseNet is an academic support team in the College Office charged with providing a centralized response to all College students in academic difficulty.

CaseNet advisors respond to messages from faculty, staff and others who have concerns about a particular student and can be reached at col-casenet@groups.sas.upenn.edu or by calling 215.898.6341. After meeting with such students directly, the contact will ensure that the student is referred to the appropriate academic or personal support resources and follow up with the student’s advisor as necessary.

The following represent a few examples of cases that should be referred to CaseNet:

  • Students who are ill or otherwise prevented from attending class for more than five days.
  • Students in serious academic difficulty.
  • Students who are hospitalized or who have other kinds of acute problems (victim of crime, etc.) that interrupt their normal schedule.
  • Students who are experiencing personal or family concerns significant enough to interfere with their academic work or to impinge on those around them, including a death in the family.

Students are encouraged to get to know and communicate regularly with their instructors by taking advantage of office hours and via email. The following tools also facilitate that communication:

  • Course Action Notices will be used by students to notify instructors about absences, and by instructors when they have a concern about how a student is doing in a course
  • The Hub is used when the College wishes to communicate sensitive documents to students.