Once a student identifies a major (or multiple majors), his or her academic direction becomes clearer and more focused. 

Clarifying a Direction

Course selection and para-curricular decisions are often clearer because the specific requirements of a major will structure many curricular and scheduling choices.

At this stage, a student usually gets an academic advisor within the department they have declared in (or multiple advisors if a student declares multiple majors). Questions at this stage are often about finishing the requirements of the major, engaging in research, whether or not to do a thesis, how to integrate non-major course in their study, and so forth.

Departments advise majors in different ways. In some departments the chair or the vice chair functions as the principal advisor. In other departments, all faculty serve as major advisors. Often this means that the major advisor must approve and sign-off on a student's academic plans, though a student might find the guidance of another or other members of the faculty equally or more useful.

Students preparing to write a senior thesis, for instance, may find a particular faculty member to be the most helpful voice of experience and guidance.

In all cases, a student can and should distinguish between the official advisor and unofficial advisors. They may need a department chair, for instance, to sign their major card and yet find the most useful direction comes from a member of the faculty they know from a class they've taken.

Students have often made important connections with faculty with whom they have studied, and these will serve as the source of much direction.