Exploration is a hallmark of liberal learning. Take this first year to explore Wesleyan’s rich and exciting curriculum to broaden your knowledge and deepen your understanding of the world and the nature of knowledge. Discovering new intellectual realms and methodologies while diving deeper into those you love allows you to develop new perspectives and hone your academic skills. The hard part will be to narrow down the courses you want to take, so it is important to think carefully about how to craft a well-balanced and manageable course schedule across the disciplines that highlights your intellectual curiosity and creativity.
Your Course Planning Schedule
You will be choosing two courses during this summer registration period—a first-year seminar and an introductory or gateway course. These are two out of the four in which you will be enrolled during the fall semester, so when you choose the first two, think of them, at least in part, in the context of the other two you will be choosing, so that your four courses together create a balanced and diverse plan of study. Use the guidelines below to help you think about that plan of study and the courses in which you would like to be enrolled. Your two courses will appear in your Wesleyan portfolio on August 19, when the Planning period begins, and you will be able to consult with your faculty advisor, who gives final approval to your four courses. When you meet, you will not only discuss your fall semester course plan, but also your educational goals, hopes and concerns at Wesleyan and beyond. Based on that discussion, you will have the opportunity to make changes (or not) during the Adjustment period and Drop/Add.
Before making your two summer registration course selections, if you have not already done so, it is important to explore different department and program websites to learn about a discipline and what is required for the major. Check out a department’s course descriptions on Wesmaps to see if there is an angle or perspective that interests you. Some departments require an introductory or gateway course (or other pre-requisites, such as a minimum grade on the intro course or completion of Stage 1 of the General Education Expectations) to declare the major, while others offer a more structured major that requires a set sequence of courses, especially in the sciences and economics, so keep an eye on this as you explore the curriculum (see “Structured Majors,” below).
The course descriptions in Wesmaps provide a wealth of information that will help you identify material, approaches, and perspectives that you would like to explore. It also tells you whether first-year students are eligible to enroll in a course, whether the course has pre-requisites, or whether the permission of instructor is needed and how it can be obtained. It is important to check out Wesmaps for any conditions necessary for course enrollment or to declare the major.
Last, if you are interested in continuing the study of a foreign language at any time during your Wesleyan career or in studying abroad, you should enroll in the appropriate language course this fall so as to maintain your current proficiency or to attain the competency you will need to study abroad. Most students study abroad in their junior year, while College of Letters majors do so in the spring of their sophomore year. If you want to learn a new language, you should enroll in the introductory course as early as possible, since it takes several years of study before one acquires proficiency. Introductory language courses are sequence courses, which means you do not get credit for the first half unless you satisfactorily complete the second half.
Before selecting your courses, you should carefully read The Faculty/Student Advising Handbook, which includes a section on building an academic program, pre-professional concerns (pre-health, pre-law, pre-business, graduate schools), and academic regulations. Compliance with academic regulations will be expected, so it is important to familiarize yourself with them from the outset.
Advising Guidelines for a Balanced Four-Course Schedule
The courses you choose should:
1. Represent a diversity of disciplines, including a new subject and a subject you love (and you will begin to
fulfill General Education Expectations in the process).
Don’t choose all science or all humanities courses, for example, or replicate your high school schedule.
2. Call for different kinds of work, such as intensive reading, frequent writing, quantitative problem-solving,
performance in the arts or in studio, scientific research, etc.
Don’t choose, for example, all heavy writing courses or only quantitative courses.
3. Have different bases of assessment, such as papers (short and research), written or oral exams,
quizzes, presentations, performances, and/or projects.
Don’t choose all courses with only research papers or only exams.
4. Vary in size, since course sizes often, although not always, correspond to different pedagogies, such as
discussion-based seminars and larger lecture courses.
Don’t let the size of the class limit your engagement with the material or the professor.
5. Take place throughout the week and day, and allow you to maximize your study time.
Don’t load up on courses that meet, for example, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or enroll in several courses that meet back-to back and keep you from having lunch. You need time to study and time to regroup.
Structured Majors at a Glance
Faculty from BIOL, NS&B and MB&B generally advise taking BIOL181/182 (plus the two labs, 191/192) and either CHEM141/142 or, for more quantitatively-oriented first years with a strong chemistry background, CHEM143/144. While this can be a relatively heavy science load for the first year, it makes the remaining three years more manageable in terms of balancing science and other areas, as well as allows you to study abroad junior year. The second year would be a combination of organic chemistry and NS&B213, MB&B208, or an upper-level biology course (plus two non-science courses). It is possible to take only intro biology or chemistry in the first year, but intro biology is strongly encouraged for potential BIOL and MB&B majors. Taking only intro biology or chemistry in the first year might be a good idea, if you are unsure about the major or have little interest in studying abroad. However, some students have taken a pre-approved summer course in organic chemistry that has then allowed them to study abroad in their junior year.
Most potential CHEM majors will take CHEM143/144 or CHEM 250/251 (organic chemistry) in their first year, depending on the level of preparation, but they should be prepared to take organic chemistry by their sophomore year. It is also possible to major in chemistry by taking CHEM141/142 in the first year followed by organic in the second, although the route through CHEM143/144 or organic is more strongly recommended for well-prepared students. Some math should also be taken in the first two years. Students interested in biological chemistry may choose to take intro biology during their first year or over one summer.
Students interested in the physics major should take PHYS113/116 their first year. Well-prepared students often skip PHYS113 and take other courses, such as PHYS215 in the fall semester. Very well-prepared students sometimes bypass PHYS113/116 altogether and begin with PHYS213, but only upon consultation with the department.
If you are interested in a MATH major, you should consult the department about the appropriate course in which to enroll, as it is dependent on your level of preparedness.
The economics department advises students to take ECON110 in the first or second semester, if you have a strong math background. Math competency at the level of MATH118 or 122 is the pre-requisite for the course. If you are concerned about your math skills, take MATH117 in the fall and ECON110 and MATH118 concurrently in the spring, or if you place of out 117, take ECON110 and MATH118 concurrently in the spring. Refer to your math placement test results for guidance on which route is more appropriate. You also can take ECON101 before taking ECON110, but it is not required. Successfully completing ECON110 prepares you for moving on to ECON300, 301 and 302, core courses for both the economics major and minor.
While almost all majors require an introductory or gateway course for the major, the departments of PSYC, FILM, ARST and GOVT require interested students to, for example, fulfill Stage 1 of General Education Expectations or earn a minimum grade on a gateway course prior to declaring the major. Students who do not get an early start in these departments may have difficulty declaring the major in their sophomore year.
Again, it is important to check each department’s website for more detailed information.
If you have questions or concerns as you develop your course plan this summer, you can contact the Peer Advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dean Melendez at email@example.com or at 860-685-2765.