School of Biological Sciences

Undergraduate Program

Working with your Advisor

When you become a biology or zoology major you will be assigned a faculty advisor in the School of Biological Sciences. Your advisor will work with you to plan coursework, consider options for research, internships, and study abroad, and make decisions about career or professional objectives.

We want to help you understand the role of your advisor and how to work effectively with him or her to make your educational experience as successful as possible.

Each semester you will meet with your faculty advisor. At these meetings, you will discuss coursework for the next semester, your broader educational and professional objectives, and any problems that may encounter in your educational program. Plan ahead for these meetings to make them as effective as possible to achieve your educational objectives.

It's a common misconception that advisors tell students what courses to take. Please do not have that expectation for your advisor. Your advisor can offer you perspective on courses, knowledge about prerequisites and other university expectations, and advice on scheduling courses for your program as well as other insights. The choice of courses you take is ultimately your responsibility as a student.

Here are some recommendations to help you work with your advisor:

      Talk to your advisor about your educational and career goals. Do this in your first meeting with your advisor and continue to discuss your long-term goals with your advisor each year.

      Use the program of study for the biology and zoology major provided in the WSU catalog and this website to plan your long-term strategy for the years and semesters when you will take required courses. Note that most courses are offered only during one semester each year and some courses are offered only in alternate years.

      For your regular fall and spring semester meetings with your advisor, contact him or her at least two weeks before your registration time to set-up a meeting time. It can be helpful if you offer a couple of days and times that you are available to give your advisor some flexibility in scheduling the meeting.

    Before you meet with your advisor for your regular fall and spring semester advising sessions consider the following:
  • Check your online Zzusis advisement report to understand your progress in fulfilling requirements for graduation and know which requirements still need to be fulfilled.
  • Prepare a list of the classes that you could take during the next semester to fulfill major and general education requirements. Consider also specialty classes that might help you to meet your broader career and education objectives.
  • Check the schedule of classes to know whether the classes you want to take are being offered and they are at compatible times.
  • Prepare also a list of questions that you would like to ask your advisor.

Two years before you plan to graduate make sure you discuss with your advisor your career or graduate/professional school plans. This will give you time to make any adjustments in your program of study that may be necessary, to plan for special accomplishments (such as internships), to schedule exams such as the GRE or MCAT, and to get advice on other contacts that might help you.

If you encounter problems at the University contact your advisor, who may be able to help you or can refer you to appropriate sources for help.

School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, PO Box 644236, Pullman WA 99164-4236, 509-335-3553, Contact Us
The SBS main office is located in 312 Abelson Hall on the Pullman campus.