The first step is to help undergraduate students identify academic goals, choose a major(s) and plan the sequence of courses to meet those goals.  When a student first enters Rensselaer, they will be assigned a faculty and/or professional staff advisor to help them with this process. ALAC provides and supports academic advising in a number of ways.

  • Training Faculty & Staff Advisors in departments throughout campus, and providing ongoing support and consultation.  ALAC staff work closely with staff in each school’s “Advising Hub” and consult with faculty advisors as needed.
  • Providing direct advising for students whose major is “undeclared general studies” or who are considering a change in their major.
  • Coordinating Meet Your Advisor Days throughout the first year to help students connect with their advisors.
  • Advising students concerning Academic Deadlines and Program Adjustments as listed in the course catalog, such as adding/dropping courses, choosing pass/no credit grading, or changing status to/from part-time study.
  • Pre-medical and pre-health advising offers ongoing guidance and advice for students in any major who choose to pursue graduate study in medicine, dentistry, or allied health professions.  - 

The Advising & Learning Assistance Center (ALAC) supports Rensselaer’s students throughout their undergraduate academic career, and helps them prepare successfully for their next adventure. Contact us at 518.276.6269.  We are here to help.


Faculty & Staff Advisors

ALAC collaborates with faculty and staff in departments throughout campus to provide personal advising to each student.

ALAC promotes advising to foster student growth and development.  The goal is to help each undergraduate student develop a robust educational plan that incorporates both appropriate course selection and personal/professional growth opportunities. 

For first-year, and possibly second-year, students, an important point of contact is their school’s Advising Hub.  A Hub is a designated place in each of Rensselaer’s five schools for students to go for general advising questions. In later years the student will work with an assigned faculty member for course and career planning.

Effective advising requires active participation on the part of advisors, students, and the Institute as a whole.

The Advisor's role

Academic advisors are trained by ALAC professional staff to:

  • Work with the student to develop an educational plan consistent with their goals and interests.
  • Understand and explain Rensselaer’s core requirements, and related rules and regulations.
  • Read and interpret each student’s report summarizing their academic courses, grades, and progress (called a CAPP report for Curriculum, Advising, Planning, & Program).
  • Monitor and discuss issues of concern regarding the student’s academic progress.
  • Recommend opportunities for personal growth and academic development.
  • Refer students to specific campus or community resources as needed.
  • Provide guidance for the junior-year Summer Arch program or study abroad.
  • Connect students to appropriate faculty for questions about possible research and career paths.
  • Student Advisor Meeting Template
Student's Role

For successful advising, student's need to:

  • Participate in developing their educational plan.
  • Review that plan to monitor their own progress towards their degree.
  • Know their advisor’s office hours for individual consultations, and let the advisor know when they are experiencing academic difficulty.
  • Attend advising sessions with a list of questions regarding curriculum, course selections, career options, and related matters.
  • Consult with their advisor or ALAC about program adjustments such as adding/dropping a course, shifting to part-time status, or withdrawing from school.
  • Understand that the advisor’s role is not to tell them what to do, but rather to provide information, options, and guidance to help the student decide his or her best path.
  • Participate in first-year Meet Your Advisor Days and subsequent annual Student-Advisor Meetings (see below)
  • Student Preparation Outline for Advisor Meeting 
The Institute’s role

Rensselaer supports academic advising by:

  • Providing adequate resources for advisors and students to meet their respective responsibilities.
  • Providing opportunities for advancing best practices and support through professional training.
  • Awarding and recognizing advisors who have done an excellent job.
Degree Works Guide (Advisors/DCOs only)

Note: The attached Quick Reference Guide is for advisors and degree clearance officers. Screens and functions will be different for students.


Direct Advising

ALAC provides direct advising for students whose major is “Undeclared General Studies” (UNGS) or who are considering a change in their major.

Usually undergraduates come to Rensselaer with a clear idea of their goals or fields of interest.  Sometimes, however, a student may have so many interests that it is difficult to choose an area of concentration.  Students may enter Rensselaer with UNGS status to have an opportunity to explore different fields, and have up to three semesters before they need to decide on a major.  A delayed choice, however, may affect the rate of progress towards a degree, so all UNGS students are assigned to ALAC staff until they decide on a school or major.  In the fall semester, ALAC runs a weekly First Year Seminar to help students explore their interests and goals, and then match those to an appropriate major. FYS sessions often have representatives from a department or campus office providing information and advice.  Some sessions may have activities geared to related skills such as personal reflection and decision making.

Sometimes students have chosen a major but are considering a change.  ALAC staff can act as a “sounding board” to help them identify their goals and interests, and select a major that best fits those interests.


Undeclared General Studies Students Registration Information

Advising and Learning Assistance Center are the assigned advisors to Undeclared General Studies students.  Since you do not have a degree template, we will need to build one that suits your interests and needs. First, we want to get to know who you are. What are your goals, expectations, and wishes? After an in-depth discussion, we will then help build your schedule. You can communicate with any of the advisors listed below:

Jeannie Steigler –

David Milford-

Nanjie Caihua-

Sharon McGrath-      

Alisha Wein -    

Take a few minutes to reflect on your goals.

  • What interests do you wish to pursue?
  • What class (es) do you enjoy currently?
  • What careers do you see yourself pursuing?
  • We will then see what courses will match your goals.

A few tips when putting your registration together:

  • Plan on registering for 17 credits (4 -4 credit courses and 1- credit Seminar)
  • Plan and choose a math class – Depending on AP/transfer credits might change the math level.
  • Plan and choose  a science class- Any of the 1000 level science classes( Bio, Computer Science, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental, Physics) will be fine. Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate IB /transfer credits might change your course selection.
  • Plan and choose a Humanities, Arts, and Social Science class(HASS) and or an Interdisciplinary Humanities, Arts, and Social Science Class (IHSS). 
  • Plan on enrolling in  ADMN 1962- First Year Seminar
  • There might be some restricted classes that ALAC advisors will need to get approval from the particular school or department before you can register for that class. We will help you through those steps.

When you are here in the fall, you will be enrolled in a first year seminar that meets weekly throughout the first semester. The seminar provides students with information about the different majors available at Rensselaer. There are presentations from various offices and departments from each of our five schools to provide more in depth information about the different curricula, career and research opportunities.


Meet Your Advisor Days

ALAC coordinates Meet Your Advisor Day throughout the first year to help students connect with their advisors, and supports annual Student-Advisor Meetings (SAM) in subsequent years.

Meet Your Advisor Days (MYAD)

Meet Your Advisor Days (MYAD) are specific dates for first-year undergraduates and their advisors to get together to build a relationship, review students’ satisfaction with and progress in courses, and plan courses to take the following semester. The meetings also enable advisors to provide students with important information, such as registration deadlines, academic resources, tutoring times, career fairs, rules and regulations, and opportunities for undergraduate research or study abroad.  MYAD sessions are held in the 2nd, 8th and 11th week of classes for the first semester and the 11th week in the spring.

Student-Advisor Meeting (SAM)

After the first year, an annual Student-Advisor Meeting (SAM) is required, usually in the spring term.  The advisor and student will review the student’s academic plan, personal and professional growth goals, and progress towards graduation.  The advisor is the only person who can approve (“clear”) a student for registration on Rensselaer’s Student Information System (SIS), so the meeting is critical. If the student and advisor do not meet, the student will not be allowed to register for the coming term. If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent a student or advisor from meeting, parties should contact their departmental office, Associate Dean of their school, or ALAC.


Academic Deadlines and Program Adjustments

For successful progress towards your degree, pay close attention to institute deadlines on matters such as adding/dropping a course, filing for degree completion, and other matters.  Rensselaer’s Academic Calendar outlines dates for these activities.

Part-time status

Dropping below 12 credit hours a semester may have serious repercussions.  If you receive(d) financial aid or are an international student, contact the appropriate office before dropping below 12 credit hours. Other matters, such as athletic participation and on-campus housing may also be affected. If, after consulting with the appropriate offices, you choose to drop below 12 credit hours, you must complete a form with ALAC to receive official confirmation of part-time status.

Transferring from another college


Transfer Credit Approval Form - Please return to

A transfer student must meet specific residency requirements.  The student must be registered full time for a minimum of four semesters.  (Two semesters of part-time study will be considered equivalent to one semester of full-time study.)  In addition, the student must complete 64 credit hours at Rensselaer, all of which will be applied to the baccalaureate degree.  If a transfer student elects to study abroad or enroll in the co-op program, no more than 12 such credits may be applied to the 64 needed for the bachelor’s degree.  The student’s educational plan at Rensselaer must include at least 16 credits above the 1000 level in the major field, or in an approved concentration.

Senior residency requirements

The Institute requires a degree candidate to earn the last 30 credits in courses completed on this campus or through a program formally recognized by the Institute.  Transfer credits are limited to two courses or eight credits towards the last 30 credits, and require approval of the Director of the Advising and Learning Assistance Center.

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Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Advising

Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Advising offers ongoing guidance and advice for students in any major who choose to pursue graduate study in medicine, dentistry, or allied health professions.

**EFFECTIVE 8/16/21 - **


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION -  PreHealth Program contact