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June 17, 2015 by Rubye Peyser

Like many of you, I took a few AP courses and exams in high school and did fairly well. The Wesleyan website says that—for someone with qualifying AP scores—taking placement exams is, “strongly encouraged,” but not required. Let’s be honest: it was June; I had just finished my senior year and taking another test did not seem ideal. Plus, Wes didn’t require the exam, so why take it, right?
I was wrong. When I arrived on campus I discovered that to qualify for the language course I wanted to take, I needed to have a certain placement exam score. There are some exceptions to this rule, but in general, professors and departments want to see your current proficiency level in a subject, not just how well you did two years ago when you took the AP.
Needless to say, the first night of orientation I was frazzled (over the placement exams and the fact that I was in my first week of college), took the exam, and did not do as well as expected. My haste in taking the test certainly played into my performance. MORAL NUMBER ONE: Take the test now, even if you think you don’t need to. If you are worried about going down a level, take a load off and (MORAL NUMBER TWO) trust the test. In truth, my Spanish was not as strong as when I graduated high school, so the class I qualified for turned out to be the right fit.
I know these exams are intimidating, but the bottom line is that you’ll be attending a top school so even if the university ultimately places you in the introductory level, the course will still be engaging and challenging.
To access the placement tests, log on to your portfolio, click on Moodle in the top left corner, and the placement tests will be listed under “My Courses.” As always, if you have questions don’t hesitate to email the Peer Advisors at peeradvisors@wesleyan.edu

Enjoy your summer!

Join us as a panel of former thesis writers speak about their experience and give advice on how to make the thesis process as easy as possible. This event is intended to give rising senior an insight on the thesis writing process prior to and during their senior year.

The event will be on Monday April 27th in 41 Wyllys, Room 115 at 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.

Panelist include:

  • Alison Goldberg ’15- Psychology
  • Earl Lin ’15 – American Studies and History double major
  • Veronica Birdsall ’15 – MB&B and Neuroscience double major
  • Veronica Alvarado ’15 – English and Religion double major

This event is brought to you by the Dean’s Office and Student Academic Services.

Are you ahead on your credits and considering graduating early? Want to save 20-25% of the cost of attending Wesleyan? As pre-reg finishes up, this is a great time to think about whether accelerating is right for you.

 

To graduate you must complete 32 Wesleyan credits, live on campus for 6 semesters, and complete one or more majors. There are several ways that you can get credits beyond the recommended 4 credits per semester:

  • Up to 2 credits may be used from before your time at Wesleyan, in the form of AP and IB scores or college courses taken during high school
  • In-semester course overload – there is no credit limit per semester, so it may be possible to take 5 or more credits at a time. Consider adding 0.5 or 0.25 credit courses to supplement your course load
  • Summer and Winter Session – you can earn up to 2 credits during Wesleyan Summer Session or 1 credit during Winter Session

 

In addition, there are several ways you could think about your accelerated program:

  • Complete your degree in 6 straight semesters and graduate ahead of your original class
  • For students in the natural sciences, join a lab and forgo doing a senior thesis and instead complete your master’s thesis during your fourth year. That is, graduate with a BA/MA in 4 years instead of 5!
  • Complete your first 4 semesters, take a gap year during your “junior year” and return to campus for your senior year with your original class

This last option is one that isn’t outlined on the 3 year website or widely known on campus. This is how I’m completing my degree and I’d highly recommend it for those considering the 3-year option. During my junior gap year, I worked in three different labs, getting full time research experience (& a published paper!) both in the US and abroad. If you regret not taking time between high school and college, this could be the perfect time. There are 15 months between the end of sophomore year and the beginning of senior year to travel, volunteer, work, or gain experience in a field you’re interested in. Many organizations offer internships during the semester that you wouldn’t be able to participate in during the semester due to location and the time commitment. These experiences can help you identify a topic for a senior thesis or gain practical skills not accessible on campus. Or, if you want the study abroad experience without the cost of a study abroad program, find an organization you’d like to work with and make your own study abroad experience. You’ll probably have to cover your own costs, but it will be considerably cheaper than Wesleyan or study abroad tuition. Feel free to reach out to me (heverett @ wes) for more information about this model!

 

If accelerating sounds appealing to you, reach out to your advisor and class Dean to discuss your plan. Accelerating makes the most sense when you have a clear goal, either for your post-Wesleyan plans or an unconventional undergraduate program. Graduating early is not for everyone or every course of study – don’t rush through your time at Wesleyan just because you can.

 

it's not a race, folks!

it’s not a race, folks!

For more information: http://www.wesleyan.edu/academics/curriculum/3year.html

So you just had a very long (weirdly longer than any other university) spring break. Now you have been back at Wesleyan for one week. You might have had your midterms, are preparing for upcoming midterms, or are one of the few students that don’t have much work. Currently, you might be dismayed with your midterm grades or worried about how your upcoming exam may affect your overall class grade. So what should you do to see your class progress and performance right now?

  1. Check your grades

On Moodle, certain professors post your grades on the left hand side of that specific class’s Moodle. There you can see your previous grades and upcoming assignments. Additionally, you can observe what percentage of your entire class grade each assignment may be. This is a great place to check your progress! If your professor does not post your grades on Moodle, you should look at your syllabus for your professor’s grading methods and apply this criterion to your previous assignments.

  1. Go to Office Hours

All professors are mandated to have office hours. Here, you can ask your professor questions about readings, question her grading methods, or talk about your professor’s research. Furthermore, office hours are a great way to ask about your grade or your progress in the class. Your professor’s office hours should be posted on the syllabus and class Moodle!

  1. Make a Plan

If you do not like your grades in a class and think you have to catch up on some work, you should map out a plan. Use your agenda, computer, and Google calendar to create a schedule for your work and class assignments. This is a great way to get on track for the second half of the semester. Peer Advisors are a great source to help make a plan and you can email all of us at “peeradvisors@lyris.wesleyan.edu”

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We hope this a helpful way to get back on track or improve your second half of the semester and always feel free to contact any peer advisor at the email above. Good luck!

Come have dinner and learn from alumni, current graduate students and staff about the ins and outs of graduate school and the application process.

Panelists

Eugene Wong ’09, Economics and Math double major
MBA 2015, Yale School of Management

Andrea DePetris ’10, Psychology major
PhD 2016, University of Connecticut, Clinical Psychology

Emily Goettsche ’12, Neuroscience and Behavior major
MPH 2015, Yale School of Public Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences

Ruthann Coyote, PhD
Pre-Professional Advisor, Pre-law and Health Professions
Wesleyan Career Center

Get a better understanding of the timing, how to select a school, preparing for entrance exams and how to pay for grad school!

Thursday, March 26, 6:30 pm to 8 pm.
Daniel Family Commons

Please RSVP here

Co-sponsored by the Deans Office, Student Academic Resources and the Career Center

Your job will be better than this movie.

Your job will be better than this movie.

What are you doing this summer? I know, it’s hard to think farther ahead than midterms, but now’s the perfect time to start planning for your summer internship. Here are some tips on how to get started.

1. Explore the CRC website

The CRC website is LOADED with info that’ll be really useful as you begin your internship search.   Have a look at CareerDrive, which catalogues job and internship opportunities. Use WesConnect to network with alums in your fields of interest.

2. Write up your résumé and a general cover letter

It seems like a daunting task, but there are a lot of helpful templates that make it much easier. Again, head to the CRC website! They’ve got sample résumés for students of all years and levels of experience. If you’re apply for many internships in the same field, write up a general cover letter and then personalize it for each company you apply to.

3. Ask you professors!

Not only will you definitely need to ask your profs for recommendations for most internship apps (email your local peer advisor for tips on how to ask!), but even if you have no idea where to start looking for internships your profs may be able to help! Ask if they have any advice, or even better if they know of any specific internships that they think might be good for you to check out.

4. Make friends with a career counselor!

Once your résumé is approved by the CRC you’re able to apply for programs through Wesleyan. Be sure to ask someone at the CRC to review your cover letters, too.

5. Apply for your dream job

Even if you can’t find an in to your favorite job through the CRC, don’t give up! Look on the company’s website to see if they’re soliciting interns. Even if they’re not, apply anyway. If you have no idea where to even begin, just google “internships” and what you are interested in and don’t be afraid to apply to random things!

6. Consider Wesleyan!

There are lots of summer opportunities right on campus! If you really don’t see any appealing internships the admissions office is often looking to hire tour guides for the summer as well as orientation interns. If you are interested in doing lab work there are opportunities to get paid to work in a lab on campus through the McNair Program and Wesleyan Summer Research funding. If you are interested in learning statistical softwares/working with one of your professors there is the QAC apprenticeship program! Ask your professors, deans, the Wesleyan website, or your peer advisors about these on-campus opportunities.

7. Don’t give up!

Brace yourself for rejection. I’ve actually learned to be happy about rejection– at least it means you’re on their radar! Cast a broad net and be persistent, and you’re unlikely to come up empty handed.

New Semester, New You

 

How can you make this semester your best semester yet? How can you throw away those B’s and lasso in those A’s? Take a look at a couple suggestions for starting off this spring semester.

new semester pic 2

  1. Reflect and Set Goals

Take an hour of your time, sit down, and really think about what you want to achieve this semester. May it be taking some more time to study for each class or joining a new club, you should write down some objectives and put them somewhere you can see them every day. Placing post-it notes near your desk or drawing your goals on poster board and hanging it up in your room can make your desired goals tangible. It is important to additionally make sure these goals are realistic and you are willing to put in the time and effort to complete them. An unrealistic goal may be getting a 4.0 while writing a novel and directing a major motion film. A realistic goal: Trying to get an A in Intro to Chemistry after you got a B+ your first semester.

  1. Make a Schedule

It is important to map out your semester by using a Master Schedule, which includes important assignments, testing dates, upcoming readings and really everything you have planned for this semester. Take the time now to look over your syllabi and write in those major assignments and dates. There are many strategies to make such a schedule. You can use your calendar on your Gmail account, iCal, or an university planner (which are free at Usdan). With your new Master Schedule, you can see which weeks you will be the busiest and which weeks you might have less work so you can plan for the upcoming busy week.

  1. Use Wesleyan’s Resources

The university provides many helpful outlets that are not used! If you need assistance with anything, academic or other, please use all the wonderful resources here at Wes. Below I will provide a shortlist of some great places:

I hope this helps you off to a good start. Good luck on your new semester and please contact the Peer Advisors if you ever have any questions!

 

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Prepare yourself to succeed this semester by attending these workshops on metacognition, a strategy that involves assessing and taking control of your own thought processes to help you become a better student!

Workshop 3 on Thursday, January 29, 2015

Time: 7:00 PM-8:15 PM

Location:       41 Wyllys, Olson Commons (CRC lobby space)

Audience:      Under Represented Minorities, Veterans, and First-Gen college students

Title:              The Journey to Excellence

Please RSVP by email for Workshop 3 cfcd@wesleyan.edu

 

Workshop 4 on Friday, January 30, 2015

Time:  9:00 AM-11:00 AM

Location:       Exley Science Center, Woodhead Lounge

Audience:      All Undergraduate Students

Title:                Metacognition:  The Key to Acing Courses!

Please RSVP by email for breakfast (served at 8:30) and Workshop 4 cfcd@wesleyan.edu

  1. Start Planning!

Next week all you have are finals and no classes. If you have more than one exam, it is important to make sure when your test are scheduled and plan out when to study for them.

  1. Schedule your Studying/Make a Plan

It is important to make a master schedule of your studying especially during finals week when you may have an abundance of free time. Creating fix blocks of studying can motivate you to work and ensure that you still have some free time. Do not make nine-hour blocks of studying! Breaks help you remember the material and make you more productive after. Giving your brain sometime to relax can also help you not procrastinate.

  1. Well how much do you need to study?

What is on the test? Is it cumulative or based on the last unit? How many sections of material are there? How hard is the course for you? Based on your answers to these questions, the amount of studying you do will depend. For example, if your Chemistry test is cumulative but your Anthropology test is only on the last section of the course, you may want to focus more on your Chemistry test since it covers more material.

  1. Strategize

How exactly are you going to study for a final? You could start by looking at the test format. Most professors let students know how the test will look; short answers, essay questions, multiple choice. Whichever the format may be, predict what some questions will be by using past exams or analyzing major course concepts. Look through your notes and lectures to see if your professor stressed any possible concepts or material. Usually when a professor wrote or said “this material will be on the test,” it is a good prediction that concept will be on the test.

One strategy that can be useful is making a study guide listing core concepts from the class. This can help you visualize and condense all the material that could be on the test onto a couple pieces of paper.

If you do not understand a concept or need assistance, do not be afraid to email your professor. They are here to help you! Need help drafting an email? Refer to our other blog post (http://peeradvisor.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2014/10/24/emailing-professors-and-attending-office-hours/)

  1. Beware of study groups

We often think that study groups can help us learn material and are productive. This is not always the case. Working with friends may be fun, but it can also be very distracting and fruitless. We recommend that you find dedicated students that share your academic goals, pay attention in class, and take notes during class. Make sure you are not participating in a study group to be taught the material or to teach another student the entire class, which may waste your time or your study buddy’s time.

  1. Know your rights!

If you have more than two exams on one day you can petition to get an exam rescheduled! Also professors are not allowed to administer a cumulative exam that is not during finals week. If you experience any of these situations, email your Class Dean or Dean Patey (lpatey@wesleyan.edu) immediately.

  1. Stay Positive!

Hey, you got this! Exam period can be very stressful, but a test does not define your whole academic tenure at Wesleyan. We know it may seem very difficult now, but you have winter break to relax. Stay positive! You are smart and successful!omg

Now that doesn't look so bad, does it?

Now that doesn’t look so bad, does it?

Tired of studying in the same old spots week after week? Olin and SciLi getting too crowded and noisy for your taste? Or is studying in your room perpetually turning into unplanned napping?

Very nap inducing

Very nap inducing

Try switching up where you study – you just might find your new go-to spot. Or, if you’re like me, you might need to pick a new place every couple weeks so you don’t get bored.

Here are some of my favorite study spots on campus:

  • Allbritton reading nooks
  • Espwesso
  • Red & Black / Broad Street window seats
  • PAC reading nooks
  • Shanklin couches ~includes white board~
  • Dorm lounges
  • Fayerweather reading nook (Can you tell I’m a fan of the reading nook?)
  • Classrooms in 41 Wyllys, Judd, Fisk, Downey, your favorite academic building (HOW? Check out Carolyn’s instructions for reserving rooms through EMS)
  • Pi Café
  • North College 1st floor sitting area
  • Daniel Family Commons ~3rd floor usdan, evenings only~
  • Usdan Multipurpose Room ~in the basement~
  • Computer labs – ST, HAS, PAC, Language Resource Center

 

Fayerweather Nook

Fayerweather Nook

PAC PAC PAC

When it’s warm out:

  • Tables behind Exley
  • Green in front of Olin
  • CFA Green (remember your first dinner ever at wesleyan over there?)
  • Dennison Terrace (the sloping green behind Olin)
  • College Row Lawn
  • The labyrinth
  • Tables outside the Exley-Shanklin connector

Or escape the bubble and try studying off campus at one of these local eateries:

  • New England Emporium
  • Klekolo World Coffee
  • Brew Bakers
  • Sweet Harmony
  • Café 56
Cafe 56

Cafe 56, Court St

 

Did I miss your favorite spot? Add it in the comments!

Check them out and happy studying!

If you want to be a pro at Pre-Registration (the planning time happening Tuesday the 4th through the 17th at 5pm), you’re going to have to do some research on the courses you want and talk over your picks with your parents, friends, peer advisors (!), faculty advisor (or any professor you’ve liked). Besides that, it also helps to strategize! Here are some tips to help you work the scheduling system to your advantage:

 

-Don’t rank a course first if it has ZERO (“0”) seats set aside for your class year/major in WesMaps. The scheduling program will not consider it…and then you’ve just wasted your #1 pick.

-Don’t try to add courses which exclude your class year/major (i.e. that have an “X” next your year/major). The system does not allow this.

-Meet with your advisor(s) and have them approve your plan before 5pm on Monday the 17th!!

-Make sure to fill up both columns, even if there is some overlap!

-Remember to use the “Edit” button when selecting a course with multiple section! This button allows you to highlight multiple sections of a course so you don’t have to waste slots on your ranking for different sections.

-You CAN rank courses which have overlapping meeting times in your plan. However, the preregistration program won’t put you in courses with time conflicts (they don’t encourage Hermione-like overscheduling)

-POI courses require you to submit a request BEFORE the end of pre-reg. Often the professor will also get back to you before pre-reg is over–if your POI says “accepted” by the system than you do not have to rank it, but you can.

-You must have either met the prerequisites of a course in order to rank it in your plan, or you must file the electronic prerequisite override request in your portfolio before the course will be officially ranked.

-You can take more than 4 courses but you will not be registered in more than 4 courses by the system during scheduling.

-Meet with your Peer Advisor or email us at peeradvisors@wes with any questions/for more helpful tips!!

 

Just a reminder of what the process looks like:

>PRE-REGISTRATION [picking & approving of course plan] = Now through Tuesday November 4th through the 17th at 5pm

>SCHEDULING [the computer system scheduling your courses based on class standing, major preference, seat availability, the number of times you have previously requested the course and, when appropriate, whether you have met the prerequisites or have the permission of the instructor] = Tuesday, November 18h

**Probably by Tuesday evening you’ll be able to see what courses you were scheduled for by the computer**

>ADJUSTMENT [going through wesmaps and adding courses with seats still still available] = Staggered start times depending on how many courses you got. Those with 0-1 courses go at 8am on Wednesday, November 19th (you will receive an email indicating what time your adjustment starts)

>DROP/ADD? Start of next semester!

 

Ever feel like you could use some extra assistance from your professor, or need to ask them a question that you can’t ask in class? We all do sometimes, and professors know that. Although it can be a bit intimidating, it is definitely very useful to reach out to professors either via email or by showing up at their office hours, and professors are usually very happy to hear from you!

Emails v. Office Hours

Once you decide to ask for help, it may be tricky to decide whether the questions you have can be answered with an email, or if you need to sit down and talk to the professor one-on-one. A good rule of thumb is to email a professor if you only have one or two questions, such as a logistical question about submitting an assignment, or which format to use when citing sources on a paper. Otherwise, if you have general questions about the course, want to discuss concepts from a reading or lecture, or would like to discuss the content of a paper or exam, it is best to attend office hours and speak to your professor one-on-one.

Tips for Emailing Professors

As previously mentioned, emailing professors is a very useful way to clarify confusion about a homework assignment, let them know you cannot attend class for a valid reason, or to ask them when you can meet  if you are unable to attend their office hours. It is unwise to email professors with questions that can easily be answered by looking at the course’s Moodle page or syllabus.

When sending any kind of formal email, it is a good idea to have a clear subject, which can include the course title and a brief explanation of what you are asking. It is also important to use your Wesleyan email, or another formal email address. Do not email a professor from your middle school email that looks something like cutiexoxo@hotmail.com. You can start your email with a more formal greeting, like Dear, To, or Hello and then address your professor as Professor (Last Name).

Next, you should explain why you are writing. You may say something along the lines of I am writing to ask you…, I am writing to confirm…, or I would like to clarify… and continue with your query. Your email should not exceed one to two paragraphs – if you need to write more, you should probably meet with your professor instead. Next, you should thank the professor by ending the email with Thank you, or a line saying something similar to I appreciate your time. Finally, some good closers can be Best, Regards, or See you in class followed by your name.

Depending on how the professor answers, you can always be a bit more casual in your follow up emails. However, if you cannot judge the formality of the email, it is always best to me overly polite than too casual. It is important to follow up with emails to professors. If you have not received a response after two or three weekdays pass, it is not unreasonable to email the professor again with a follow up. It is also always polite to email a professor thanking them after they respond to you, so they know you have read their reply and appreciate it.

Tips for Attending Office Hours

Office hours can be a really great way to form personal relationships with professors and show them that you are a proactive student, interested in doing well in their class. It is always a good idea to attend office hours once or twice a semester for all classes, to make sure your professor knows who you are (especially in a large course), and to make sure you are on track in a class. Professors set up these times once or twice a week, which can usually be found on a course syllabus or on their faculty page on the Wesleyan website, so students have a time to meet them. It is a great idea to go and speak to professors if you are unsure of how you are doing, before you fall behind. You can also attend office hours to ask for clarity about concepts on a test or to go over questions you got wrong on an exam, to clarify a paper prompt, to look over a paper outline or ask for additional sources for research.

Sometimes a professor’s office hours directly overlap with another class or prior engagement. Professors know this will happen, and are usually very accommodating and  willing to schedule another appointment time with you — just make sure to  email them a few days in advance and tell them what times are convenient for you. If you make an appointment with a professor, make sure to arrive on time! For general office hours, it is up to you when to show up during that time slot. If possible, it is best not to arrive five minutes before the end of their office hours, so you have time to talk. During really busy times in the semester (midterms, finals, right before an assignment is due), it may be smart to arrive towards the beginning of office hours, just in case you have to wait.

It is helpful to prepare for your meeting a bit to ensure you get the most out of your meeting. If you have a question about an upcoming exam, make sure you have reviewed the material a little before you arrive. If you are asking about a paper, make sure you have at least read the prompt and given it some thought. Finally, always be polite! Ask your professors how their day is going, and thank them for their help when it is over.

 

Contacting professors, either by email or by attending office hours, may be intimidating, but professors are people to and their job is to help you! Good luck!

Managing Your Emails


As helpful as our computers are, they can instill quite a bit of stress in us when it comes to managing our lives, particularly with emails. Whether your emails are from the administration, professors, friends, family, Gap, or some fashion-site that you used once to get a great deal, you are bound to have a jumbling inbox.

 

Luckily for you, we get to use Gmail through Wesleyan’s email account. Firstly, this allows us to automatically filter your emails into tabs for various classes or groups of people, so you can see right away which messages belong wEmailhere.

 

Secondly, you can view messages in order of date, importance, or by sender, which really helps when trying to locate a specific email or if you’re unsure about what you’ve already sent. Thirdly, Gmail will also send and/or receive messages linked with another email address, so you don’t have to log in and out finding a certain message.

 

I would recommend not allowing sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and so forth to have access to your school email, as you will soon perceive this email address as a room full of spam, even though many professors, employers, and family rely on email to contact you.

 

In regards to emailing a professor, potential employer, or any kind of superior, please refrain from addressing them by their first name or last name until they have told you otherwise. For professors, I generally start with “Good [afternoon] Professor _____,” and end with “Best, Andrew”. If s/he replies, I don’t use that format again, but rather just state what I need to say or ask, and conclude with “Thanks, Andrew.” It’s always good to be overly formal at first, and as you get to know your professors over time they’ll be more lenient to be casual with you.

 

Hopefully these tips will calm your electronic communication nerves, and of course if you have any questions about writing an email or how to manage your inbox, the Peer Advisors are always here to help.

Hello Class of 2018! 

My name is Veronica Birdsall, and together with the other Peer Advisors (who you will hear from soon!) , I will be helping you along in your academic career before, during, and after Orientation!

Now a little bit about Peer Advisors (PAs) :

Who are we?

Exactly what the name implies! Fellow Wesleyan students (I’m in the class of 2015!), trained to help you choose courses, talk to professors, plan majors, and attain academic success. There will be 20 of us during Orientation to help with your very first pre-registration, and then 6 full-year PAs who will continue be there for you throughout the academic year. You will meet us at Orientation!

What can you ask us about?

Anything! As long as it’s about academics at Wesleyan. We can help you with every aspect of course registration, help you to excel in your classes once the semester starts, and try to answer basically any questions you have about courses, majors, and academics at Wesleyan. Email us at peeradvisors@wesleyan.edu with any question you have.

But actually, who are we??

Check out the “About Us” to see our pictures and bios (they will all be posted soon!)

 

I can’t wait to meet you guys!

Veronica

Introduction
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.

Getting Started
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.

Additional Help
If you have questions or concerns as you develop your course plan this summer, you can contact the Peer Advisors at peeradvisors@wesleyan.edu or Dean Melendez at mmelendez@wesleyan.edu or at 860-685-2765.

Dear Class of 2018,

As you have no doubt deduced, my name is Andrew Curran. I’m Dean of Arts and Humanities and the Director of Curricular Initiatives at Wesleyan. Welcome to Wesleyan !

I’m writing today to let you know about the First-Year Seminar Program (FYS), which has been designed with you in mind.

Here is the description of the program.

First-year seminars (FYS) will introduce students to a variety of topics ranging from Greek myth to neuroscience. Some of these classes treat a specific thinker (e.g., Kafka); others provide a sweeping introduction into an interdisciplinary area of study that may be new to first-year students (e.g., animal studies). All of these classes, however, will emphasize the importance of writing at the university level. Students in first year seminars will become familiar with the methods used to collect, interpret, analyze, and present evidence as part of a scholarly argument. Faculty teaching these classes will also highlight the type of writing associated with their respective disciplines, and help students develop, compose, organize, and revise their writing. All first-year seminars will have a series of written assignments, and will feature oral or written feedback on student writing; many will also employ peer-mentoring and writing tutors. FYSs are limited to 15 students.

No matter what your major or interests are, the ability to write well is absolutely key to your success here. From Dance to Physics, expressing yourself clearly, concisely, and eloquently is something best mastered early, as opposed to in your senior year.

I asked several students about what the FYS has done for them. Here is the best quote I got from a student:

“In the spring of my freshman year, I took an FYS on ‘Platonism, Pragmatism, and Existentialism.’ It was my first exposure to philosophy—and the first time I’d been expected to write weekly response papers. It was a great and ultimately satisfying experience to engage fully and critically with a text and not simply fall back on my ability to craft a sentence. The course forced me to write meaningfully—not simply well.”

And this same student told me to remind you of something else:

“the first year at Wesleyan should be a time for exploration, for learning to live away from home and adapting to a new environment. My FYS helped me transition into college writing and the world of university academics. In a year that included many large introductory courses, my FYS provided me with a unique opportunity to take a small course with a professor who gave me personalized attention and improved my writing. This later allowed me to dive into any subject, course, major, program with confidence.”

Great advice.

You will see that there are many different types of FYS classes. The list of available classes is here on WESMAPS.

At Wesleyan, as you know, you are not required to take any specific class, but I would urge you all to take one of these FYS classes. As the students I have talked to put it, a little work now will pay off for years to come.

All the best to you,

Dean Andrew Curran

P.S. If you have any questions about registering for these classes, please discuss them with your Faculty Advisor, whom you will meet in the fall. The important thing now is to claim your class !!!

In my last blog post as a peer advisor, I wanted to share what has been the most important lesson for me during my undergraduate career: improving myself and asking for help.

Excelling at Wesleyan hardly necessitates having the right answers all the time. What is far more valuable in promoting learning and personal growth is being aware of individual challenges and having the willingness to get support.

In entering finals week and beyond, ask yourself what can I improve upon? Is it managing time, writing long papers, or maybe taking multiple choice tests? While grades are an inevitable part of college, look beyond the sheer numbers (whether high or low) and try to acquire an honest and accurate assessment of the challenges you face. This may seem tough when surrounded by peers who seem to be perfect at everything; however, as great as Wesleyan students are, they are particularly skilled at hiding challenges. Realize that seeking improvement is commonplace here, but more importantly, make your self-assessments about YOU.

Once you start developing an understanding of how you want to improve, take advantage of the many resources Wesleyan has to do so.  Visit the writing workshop to get a second set of eyes your work. Talk to a CAPS counselor, even if you just want to check in. Speak with your professors after class—whether to get their advice on course topics or just to get to know them. Talk to a peer advisor! All of these resources and the many others are here to help you reach your goals. Being too proud to get support is not only wasteful in terms of the wealth of resources we have, but also restrictive of actually growing while in college.

I wish you all the best going forward with final exams/projects and implore you to seek out the resources that will help you improve—both this week and throughout your college careers.

A reminder that Wednesday, 4/30 is the last day to withdraw from full semester and 4th quarter classes! If you’re thinking of withdrawing from a course, you should reach out to the professor and your class dean as soon as possible.

 

A student looks over his class schedule.

Help Them Help You

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Establishing close relationships with your professors outside of class is one of the most important aspects of your college experience. Doing so can help bolster your understanding of course material, provide potential recommendations for summer and post-Wes opportunities, and generally enhance your perspective in navigating your undergraduate careers. But hopefully these benefits are more or less obvious. The real question is what can we as students do to enhance our interactions with profs? In other words, how can we help them help us?

When working with professors outside of class, you should embody the three P’s. Be Purposeful, Prepared, and Polite.

Purposeful

Why are you meeting with the professor in the first place? Is it to get help with a specific question or do you want to talk about several topics? Assessing your goals for the meeting is crucial—both in terms of getting the most effective help and showing respect for your professor’s time. Always set up and arrive at your appointments with a purpose in mind.

Prepared

It is not only your job to think about why you want to meet; you must also convey your purpose to your professor. This can be done in a variety of ways.

Be prepared for a meeting by emailing your professor beforehand to set up an appointment. Write a direct note stating why you want to meet and when you are available (ideally during their posted office hours); see post for email template. If your professor has drop-ins and the anxiety of writing an email prevents you from actually going, still go; however, do not underestimate the value of a concise and informative email.

Once you decide when you will meet, write a list of the questions or topics you would like to discuss beforehand. This can be a tremendous aid in ensuring you actually get the help you need. Talking with smart people about complex material can lead to inevitable vacant smiling and nodding; still, you want to minimize this as much as possible to make sure you get the most out your time with your professor. A concrete list (with check boxes!) can make all the difference in giving you confidence to say, “I don’t quite get what you mean. Could we talk over that one again?”

Polite

You are not the only one with limited time around here; in fact with all the responsibilities that go into teaching, directing research, and helping other students, professors have much busier schedules than we do. Be polite by expressing your gratitude when they meet with you. This does not only mean saying thank you; show your respect by arriving on time, listening well, and being motivated at the meeting.

Mastering the three P’s takes practice. It can be almost impossible to be aware of every question you have before you meet with a professor, so don’t fret too much if this all seems really hard. As long as you try, your professors will respect you and want to help.

Apps for Success

We all know that iPhones are magical, wondrous devices useful for everything from snapchatting to getting the name of that song playing in Pi. Until this week though, I did not fully realize how much iPhones can help out with studying and time management. So, I come to this blog post to impart some wisdom about handy apps that can unlock the power of your iPhone…

1.    inClass

This free app allows you to organize your schedule, with both a semester and daily calendar. It also helps you organize your notes within your courses and your daily schedule, record audio while taking notes, and share notes with others.  So, your notes are organized for you within your courses and your daily schedule. This app is especially useful for students with learning disabilities.

 

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2.    Noteability

This App, designed for an iPad and iPhone, isn’t free but it may just be worth the whopping $2.99. Noteability allows you to type notes directly into your phone and then replay your notes with audio recording that reads your notes back to you. You can also automatically backup all of your work to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. Plus, it looks pretty awesome.

 

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3.    myHomework

This free iPhone app is helpful in keeping track of all of your cousework, tests, and projects. It will notify you when an assignment coming up, and you can see all of your homework entries using the calendar view. It’s much harder to lose track of deadlines with this app at hand!

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4.    My Minutes

Do you ever find yourself browsing Facebook or BuzzFeed for an inordinate amount of time? This $2.99 app is based on the power of goal setting and keeping track of that time. You can set this app to allow you to spend “at most” 15 minutes on, say, checking your email, and will then give you a nudge when you’re out of time. Conversely, you can see how much time it takes you to do your coursework for certain classes, which will help you to realistically manage your time and set goals in the future.

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For a longer list of these apps, including ones specifically designed for college students with disabilities, see this fantastic page from the University of New Hampshire.

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