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You’d be surprised at how few fun pictures come up when you google image search “course registration”.

So today was the last day of planning your courses for the next semester, and tomorrow you’ll find out what classes you got. BREATHE. (It can be a little scary, so I’m just going to go ahead and and remind you not to freak out from time to time.)

Most people will find they’ve been enrolled in 1 to 3 of the courses they requested. If you only got one, now’s the time when you’re going to want to BREATHE. It’ll be okay, we’ve all been there/will be there eventually. And the silver lining of getting very few classes is that you get to wake up really early Wednesday morning! No, really, it’s a good thing! Your adjustment period begins later the more classes you have, so that the early birds with only one or two classes face less competition getting seats.

Once your adjustment period starts, spend some time refreshing your planning page. Hopefully, a seat will open up in one of the classes you didn’t get, and you can snag it. Again, BREATHE. Check back throughout the day in case a spot randomly opens up, but you don’t have to spend the whole day in front of your laptop hitting the refresh button. Take a walk, eat some lunch, go to class. No seriously, go to class!

Now that we are half way through spring break, it is the perfect time to take a peek at what awaits in your first week back from break. Do you have a paper due? Readings to finish? A midterm to tackle? Or did you want to plan a meeting for that week? These are all things to consider now so you can avoid post-spring break panic!

Right now, you are a week ahead of EVERYTHING. But if you wait until the beginning of next week to start your work, you may find yourself quickly falling behind! So, here are some tips to take advantage of this week by planning both your work AND your fun! (Note: This post is based on my earlier post about Thanksgiving break, so if you have seen that, this one will be very familiar. Keep up the great break habits!)

1. Take a moment  to look at your syllabi or calendars or where ever you put your assignments for which readings, papers, projects, and exams you have in the first week/first two weeks back from break.

2. From there, decide how much of that workload to tackle. Make sure to set a feasible goal for yourself. Sitting at home with your best friends Hulu & Netflix for the next week? You could probably get about half your work done. Going on a trip with friends to Miami in the next week? Aim to get one or two minor assignments done.

3. Depending on how much work you have, pick specific times or days during the break when you will decide to do NO WORK and just relax. Plan your fun days ahead of time. Taking well-deserved breaks are just as important as getting work done. By setting aside these specific times to relax, you avoid taking breaks when you “should be working.” Those kinds of breaks in which you feel guilty taking them are often not as fulfilling as a result.

4. Now, looking at your schedule and knowing how much work you have and which days you have free, commit at least a couple hours on each of those days to work. Maybe you know you can wake up around 9am and have breakfast and work from 9:30am – 12pm. Maybe you have a free afternoon from 1pm – 4pm and you can get work done then. Figure out when will work for you and commit to that. No pressure to get all of it done, just make it your goal to be productive during those hours so you can spend the rest of your time relaxing. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to get done, once you start.

5. OTHER TIPS: Use your travel time well. Be realistic in your planning. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting everything done.

Have a great spring break and I hope you guys are getting in some extra rest, some fun, and maybe even a little sun!



Are you missing appointments or forgetting where you need to be? Do you find it difficult to let others know your availability when asked on the spot? Then it may be time to reexamine your organizational “system.” Use this break as a time to assess yourself and explore new platforms for staying on top of your stuff!

Developing awareness of your free and occupied time is an integral skill in college. Whether you need to get help from a professor, attend a TA session, or make room for a meal with friends, time awareness is essential. In this post, I want to offer a few methods for staying on top of your entire schedule with a focus on electronic systems.

There are a variety of electronic calendar—aka “E-calendar”—options that are compatible with whatever operating system is familiar for you. Whether or not you have a smart phone, these tools are great for streamlining your time awareness throughout the semester and beyond.

Choosing a system

On top of scheduling the time and location of a certain event, your e-calendar should have three basic functions: creating new categories/calendars for organizing different events (e.g. class schedule events are separate from band practice times), adding alerts for certain scheduled events, and automatic repeating scheduled events that recur (e.g. Orgo Lab will always occur on Thursday from 1-5 until May 7, 2014). You will need to choose an E-calendar based on how intuitive these functions feel within it, while also considering other factors such as smartphone compatibility or personal preferences. The most popular choices among the peer advisors are iCal (Macs), Outlook (Macs and PCs), and Google Calendar(Macs/PCs and Free); however, whatever system you find that fulfills the ‘category,’ ‘alert,’ and ‘repeating’ functions will likely do.

Setting it up

Once you find one to experiment with, the first step in setting up your E-calendar is to create the categories for the events in your life. Some choose to put every single event in one category–totally fine–while others have greater affinity for subdividing things.  Personally, I use three categories: courses, TA sessions/Office Hours (great to have on hand!), and commitments (basically anything scheduled that doesn’t repeat every week).

Next, you will want to start filling in events! Start with things you know are going to happen like your classes. Use tools such as “repeat event until…” so that you can quickly enter a class for an entire semester (FYI: the last day of classes is 5/07/2014). Don’t forget to add TA sessions and office hours! Other routine commitments to put on might include sports practice, a committed time to working out, extracurricular activity meetings, routine meal times, etc!

Lastly, you will want to add non-routine items as you become aware of them. As soon as I get back, for instance, I will be meeting with my advisor, which for me goes down as a “commitments” event. Because this feels far away at the moment, I will be sure to add a few alerts so that I remember the meeting. On Google Calendar, this can be done by double clicking an event and selecting “Add Reminder” towards the bottom of the event window. You can add several alerts that vary from 10 minutes before to 10 days before!

Syncing it with your smartphone (optional but highly recommended) 

Once your calendar is in working order, make the most of it by syncing it to your smartphone. With your calendar on hand all the time, you will be able to make appointments on the spot with confidence, while also being reminded of events that otherwise might get forgotten. The process of syncing will vary between each device and operating system you use. Check out these specific articles for syncing google calendar with various iPhone and Android phones; here are articles for Outlook and iCal as well. The general process involves accessing the phone settings, linking a google account, and selecting which of the calendars (or categories) you’ll want to be on your phone. This last step is hard to generalize across devices so if you find yourself at all confused do not hesitate to reach out to any of the peer advisors!


The Deans’ Office is looking for talented and motivated students to become Student Academic Resources (SAR) Peer Advisors for the 2014-2015 academic year. SAR Peer Advisors are sophomores, juniors and seniors who work during New Student Orientation (NSO) and throughout the academic year to support Wesleyan’s faculty advising program and enhance student access to academic resources through SAR. Peer Advisors will receive training, give individualized peer advice and facilitate workshops for groups of students regarding time management, public speaking, study and exam preparation strategies.

Click here for a more detailed job description and the application.

Application due: Friday, April 4th at 5pm

Deciding what you want to spend your college years studying can seem like a pretty daunting task. There’s no one “right” way to choose a major: choosing a major is an ongoing and fluid process that can start as early as freshman year and can end far past the March of your sophomore year. Here are some tips collected from Peer Advisors of how we chose our majors and what we learned along the way.


1. Reflect on what you want to study and how you want to study it

This may sound obvious, but it’s important to sit down and really think about what kind of learning you enjoy. Former Peer Advisor and Wesleyan alum Kevin Donohoe ’12 suggests asking yourself questions like: “Would you rather read dead people’s mail or crunch numbers? How interested are you in theory? Do you want to spend hours every day reading a novel or would you rather look at a painting? Do you like a Professor’s particular approach to a subject? Are you interested in their scholarly work?” Answering these questions and thinking about which classes you’ve enjoyed in the past should help you narrow down which departments to consider majoring in.


2. Spend a solid chunk of time browsing WesMaps

Since most majors require that you eventually take around 10 or 11 courses in that department, WesMaps can help you decide if there truly are that many courses you would want to take. Don’t just look at the courses offered now but also at the courses not offered this year- this can be useful in getting a sense of the variety of courses the department offers. Are you scrambling to find enough courses you’d genuinely be interested in taking, or are you feeling excited and even a tad worried that you might be oversubscribing?

WesMaps also links to detailed information about the requirements for each major and the major’s website, which can help you plan long-term and decide whether you would be able to double major. Reviewing the major requirements can also be helpful in weeding out which majors you should definitely not pursue.


3. Talk to faculty and upperclassmen majors

Speaking to faculty and upperclassmen is a great way to decide if the major is right to do. If you can, try to attend all of the open houses for the departments you’re considering majoring in. These open houses bring faculty and upperclassmen majors together to talk to you about the major, answer your questions, and feed you! Keep checking the Class of 2016 blog for an updated list of when the open houses are happening.  If you can’t make it, stop by one of the professor’s office hours or visit the chair of the department. Each major also has a student committee which you can contact if you want to hear about the major from a student’s perspective. The contact info for the committee will most likely be listed somewhere on the department’s website.

If you’re looking for any other people to talk to, your faculty advisor, Class Dean, and Peer Advisors are always here! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us individually or email us all at peeradvisors@lyris.wesleyan.edu.



Teacher Pointing at Map of World

Whether it’s for an internship, job, or grad school application, at some point in your college career you will most likely have to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation. Here are some tips from your Peer Advisors and other bits of advice from a professor, Erik Grimmer-Solem, to make the recommendation-asking process as comfortable as possible for both you and the professor:

1)   Start early by cultivating a relationship with a professor

Way before you need a letter of recommendation, you should start establishing a relationship with a professor. Prof. Grimmer-Solem advises, “it’s important to cultivate a relationship with a professor at an early stage. Don’t wait until you need a letter of recommendation.” Ultimately, having a longer-term familiarity with the professor will make both of you more comfortable when it comes time for you to ask for a letter.

There are many ways to get to know professors, including going to a professor’s office hours and participating in class (for more details, see: Getting to Know Faculty)

One underappreciated way to get to know a professor is through the Daniel Family Commons Free Lunch Program. These vouchers cover the cost of lunch for a faculty member and up to three students. To pick up a voucher, visit Dean Mike Whaley’s office at 220 North College.

2)   Choose wisely by asking someone who knows you

While this may be difficult, especially if you’re a first year student, you want to ask the professor who is best able to speak about your abilities as a student and the quality of work you produce. This may be your faculty advisor who you also took a class with, a professor for a smaller seminar, or simply a professor that you feel really connected to. Don’t necessarily choose the professor based on which class you got the highest grade in; if it’s big lecture class, the professor may not know you to the same extent as a professor for a seminar would.

It would also be ideal if your professor had a sense of your longer-term goals, so that he or she could write about how the position you’re applying to fits into those plans. When writing recommendation letters, Prof. Grimmer-Solem asks students to send him a description of how the position they’re applying for will contribute to their career and long-term goals. While not all professors ask this, it’s a good idea to share your career goals with your professor so that they have a better sense of who you are and where you’d like to be heading.

3)   Ask early and nicely

Once you settle on which professor to ask, make sure you reach out to them as early as possible. Remember, your professors are busy people! Prof. Grimmer-Solem cautions, “students sometimes don’t fully appreciate that writing a good letter can take 1-3 hours. It’s a very time consuming thing.” Aim to ask at least a month in advance, with the absolute minimum of 2 weeks in advance.

Also, and this may seem obvious, make sure you ask for a letter rather than demand it. “Don’t just say ‘write me a letter of recommendation,’ ” Prof Grimmer-Solem advises. Rather, you should ask nicely and express your awareness that writing a letter takes time and that the professor may not feel comfortable writing one. You should not pressure a potential recommender, but try to be thoughtful and respectful of their time.

4)   Say thank you

Saying thank you is a simple way to communicate your appreciation for the work that the professor put in on your behalf. As Prof. Grimmer-Solem put it, “gratitude’s always good!” Keep them updated on the status of your various applications, and work to continue the positive relationship you’ve established.

Good luck asking away!



The long stretch of winter break is a great time to reflect on the past semester. Some of you, especially first-year students, may feel like you still haven’t found your “niche” or social support group of close friends. Or, you may feel that you are too close to a certain group of people and want to branch out more. When I plan out my new year’s resolutions, I always write something socially-related and vague like, “make new friends” or “be friendly.” However, years of trying to fulfill these resolutions have taught me that changing social behavior can be difficult without consciously incorporating different techniques. So, I present to you five suggestions, collected from the Peer Advisors, of easy ways to make connections next semester.

   1. Leave your door open (when you can)

This sounds like the simplest thing but it will make a huge difference in how approachable you are to your hallmates. For those times when you’re just hanging out in your room or shooting the breeze with your roommate, prop the door open with a chair or door stop and other people walking by are far more likely to stop by your room and chat with you. You’re also doing a service to the other people on your hall who want to be social but wouldn’t want to just go around knocking on closed doors. Who knows- you might even change the culture of your hall by starting a new trend!

2.   Join a new student group or get involved in a new activity

This is the traditional nugget of wisdom that your parents are always telling you, but it’s also important to keep in mind that not all student groups are necessarily social opportunities. Some activities are better for making friends than others, and this is something you could easily find out by asking someone who’s in the group.

For example, one activity highly recommended by Peer Advisor Cynthia Tong is the Terpsichore dance show, or “terp,” which is held once a semester.  This is a great opportunity for people of all dance levels because everyone who tries out is placed into one of the dances. Plus, what’s better bonding than repeatedly dancing closely and sweatily to expertly coordinated moves?

If you’re thinking of joining something new, you should check out the student groups fair that will be held next semester (date still pending).

3. Take advantage of new classes as an opportunity to make new friends

The first week of classes is the perfect opportunity to meet new people. Chat with whoever you’re sitting next to, ask for their numbers, and then—when the time is right—invite them to hang out. This can be as simple as inviting them to go with you to events that are related to the class or something else they might be interested in. This may seem daring, but just go for it. Chances are, they’ll be thrilled that someone is being so friendly and will be equally excited to hang out with someone new.  If you’re feeling particularly bold, you can extend this attitude more generally and ask for people’s numbers anywhere you have a good conversation, like on a long Usdan line or at a party.

4.    Ask a professor (and new class friend) out to lunch

Take advantage of the Daniel Family Commons Free Lunch Program to take your professor and your new class friend(s) out to lunch! These vouchers cover the cost of lunch for a faculty member and up to three students, or you can just go with your professor on a lunch date. Since asking a professor out to lunch on your own can be intimidating, inviting a friend from class can ease the awkwardness and give you something to bond over (“I can’t believe we just had lunch with professor x!!!”)  It’s also a great way to connect with a professor you like and to get to know them in a smaller, cozier setting. To pick up a voucher, visit Dean Mike Whaley’s office at 220 North College. Did I mention it’s free food?

5.   Do the crossword in public

This unusual suggestion comes from old-timer Peer Advisor Faisal Kirdar. He’s found that doing the crossword in a public place, like Usdan or Pi, is a great way to meet new people. Since so many of us college folk are into crosswords, you’re likely to find someone eager to collaborate.  Although I’m not into crosswords myself, I have witnessed many interactions occur through the magic of the crossword puzzle.


Hope you’ve found some of these suggestions helpful, and feel free to post your own tips in the comments. Happy New Year!!!



When we work so hard during the semester, it can be really hard sometimes to even try and think about work over our well-deserved breaks. For many people, Thanksgiving break is a time for family, for food, for high school friends, for long security lines at the airport, and whether by car, train, or air, even longer trips home. So during all that, who has time for homework?

In this post, I hope to convince you, Wesleyan student, of the importance of adding homework to your schedule during this Thanksgiving break, and how you can do so without adding stress to your break.

You may or may not have realized it, but when we come back from Thanksgiving break next Sunday, we will only have 1 more week of classes left and then finals start right away the next week after that, after those measly “reading days.” That means that all those assignments (read: projects, presentations, final papers, tests) that seemed forever away are now actually less than 1 week away!

IF this realization is hitting you hard, the first thing to do is take a DEEP breath. DON’T PANIC. Here is a way for you plan your work AND your fun so that this break can be both productive and relaxing.

  1. Before leaving campus, take a look at your syllabi or calendars or where ever you put your assignments for which readings, papers, projects, and exams you have in the last weeks of school, including your finals.
  2. Of those for the next week, pick about HALF of that workload to bring home with you. There is nothing worse than an unopened textbook sitting on your desk waiting to be packed up again Sunday morning at the end of break. If you know what you plan to get done, it will seem less daunting. The goal is to feel accomplished not guilty.
  3. Depending on how much work you have, pick one or two days during the break [Wed – Sun] when you will decide to do NO WORK and just relax. Maybe you know you will be traveling with your family Thanksgiving day and do not want to work about work that day. Maybe you have a big reunion with your high school friends Saturday night or you want to wake up early and shop for Black Friday and then sleep the rest of the day away. Whatever it is, plan your fun days ahead of time. This is just as important as planning your work because breaks are an important time to replenish before finals.
  4. Now, looking at your schedule and knowing how much work you have and which days you have free, commit at least a couple hours on each of those days to work. Maybe you know you can wake up around 9am and have breakfast and work from 9:30am – 12pm. Maybe you have a free afternoon from 1pm – 4pm and you can get work done then. Figure out when will work for you and commit to that. No pressure to get all of it done, just make it your goal to be productive during those hours so you can spend the rest of your time relaxing. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to get done, once you start.
  5. OTHER TIPS: Use your travel time well. Be realistic in your planning. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting everything done.

Good luck and have a great Thanksgiving, y’all.

So Thanksgiving Break is just around the corner, and I for one always have impossibly high hopes for the amount of pre-finals studying I’m going to get done between sessions of stuffing my face with turkey.  It’s sometimes harder for me to follow through on those lofty plans–food coma sets in and then I’m good for nothing except sitting in the La-Z Boy watching 30 Rock on Netflix– but one useful thing I always do over break is create a study schedule for final exams.

tumblr_lh8nzuBVEz1qbr65yo1_400Without a schedule, studying for three, four, or even five finals can seem overwhelming. But if you follow these steps, you can take a lot of the stress out of exam time.

1. Start NOW!

Plan your studying well in advance just to give yourself some wiggle room. You can get your exam prep done AND go to the film series on a whim during the last week of classes.

2. Calculate the total number of hours of studying you’ll need for each class.

Is it a cumulative final? Or just a test based on the last unit of the class? How many chapters of the textbook will the exam cover? How challenging is the course for you? Consider all of these things when deciding how long you’ll need to study. For example, when I’m studying for an exam in a textbook-based course, I usually give myself one hour of studying for each chapter I need to review, plus two hours of general revision the night before the test. So if I have to study 7 chapters, I have to give myself 9 hours of study time.

3. Make a realistic plan of how many hours of studying you can do a night. 

Now I know I need to study 9 hours for one exam, but I don’t know when to put in those hours. It wouldn’t be good for me to do 4.5 hours over 2 nights, or even 3 hours over 3 nights– that’s too much like cramming. So I like to stretch it out– 1 hour a night, and maybe 2 hours the night before the test. That means I have to start studying 8 nights before the exam.

4. Make a calendar. 

Make your plan visible! Write or type it out and put it somewhere where you can see it. Here’s a sample study calendar I found online.

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

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



Course admission is a fluid process that spans pre-reg, adjustment, and drop add. Distributing your efforts in the following categories will immensely increase your chances of getting in:

Rank ‘em in your plan

The first opportunity you’ll get to increase your chances in securing a seat in a class is through ranking during the planning period. Your top ranked courses should be both of high interest and have limited space. For instance, even though physics is the course I need to take the most, because it has a lot of seats, I’m ranking it lower in my plan.  You can assess the difficulty of enrollment by searching the archives on wesmaps. How many available seats were there in Math 122 last year? While you won’t know for sure what course will be hardest to get into by searching, you will be in a better place to make an educated guess in ranking your plan. For more technical aspects of the two-column system, see Paul Turenne’s Dos and Don’ts guide.

Stack up your unranked course list

TOM-BRADY-PIC-2St. Louis Rams v New England Patriots


Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback of all time was taken in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft. If he were a Wesleyan course, he wouldn’t have even made the five-item list!




While no one could have predicted the success to come for Brady, similar unlikely heroes emerge all the time in course selection. Keep your unranked list deep so that when the obvious favorites like Techniques of Nonfiction and Drawing I are scooped up, you’ll be able to move down your list and still pick courses that meet your needs. Furthermore, when adjustment comes, you’ll want to already have courses in mind; this way, when your number is called, all you have to do is click add.

Adjust to adjustment

Once your plan goes through, you’ll find out what you got and didn’t get and accordingly when you’ll be able to participate in adjustment. If you are still in need of a class, you can use the search tool on Wesmaps to find seats available among other criteria. As I said in the last section, try to minimize the need for scrambling at this stage by adding depth to your unranked course list. Also, for courses you don’t get, you’ll have the opportunity to rank your waiting list courses.  Think carefully about which courses you rank highest, as unlike prereg rankings, professors can see what you put during adjustment. Note that in tight situations, professors typically only consider number one adjustment ranks when selecting students off the wait-list.

Email your professors

Establishing a connection with your professors and explaining to them why you are interested in their course is never a bad idea. While some only admit students based on the order they appear on the wait list (this is determined by the system through measures such as adjustment rank, number of previous attempts to enroll, major, etc.), many professors take a student’s demonstrated interest into account.  You can’t go wrong by reaching out. See my post on ‘emailing your professor’ for a concise and polite format to follow in contacting your profs.

Show up to the first class during drop/add

Professors will typically drop anyone who doesn’t show up to the first class, so be sure to go to the first day even if you are not enrolled. I’ll post some more info on navigating your way through drop/add closer to the start of next semester, but in the meantime realize there is still hope even if you don’t get all the classes you want. That said, do your best to maximize your chances in the earlier processes as you can’t be everywhere at once on the first day.


Still haven’t finalized a plan for pre-reg? Don’t worry! Your PAs are here to help!

In general, there are two questions to consider when planning your courses: what do I want to take, and how can I get in the class?  The following is part one of a two part series of tips that will help you better answer these questions and in doing so enable you to maximize your control over what you learn.


What do I want to take?





Every good quest starts with a map—Wesmaps!







Whether you are looking for any NSM gen-ed course or have no idea what you want to take, begin your journey at Wesmaps. The search tool (located on the top right corner of the home page) is packed with amazing features that enable you to search as broadly or specifically as you want.  You can search parameters such as class time, major department, gen-ed category, among several others.  Play around with this feature and start collecting a list of courses. Criteria for your own personal list might include the following:

  •  Wooah cool!
  • This is a gateway course for a major I’m considering
  • This class seems interesting and uses assessments that match my learning style.
  • I should take a humanities class to maintain gen-ed balance
  • If I don’t take PHYS 112, I won’t graduate–this one’s actually mine 🙂

Once you get started with this you’ll quickly have tons to work with, as picking courses you like is (hopefully) fun! Next, the process is narrowing down the list. Some of this may happen instinctively in just looking at a smaller sample of courses, but in case you find yourself stuck, try assessing the list with further questions:

  • How much insight might this course provide into whether I want to major in College of Letters?
  • Will this SISP course build off any of the interesting topics from my FYS this semester?
  • Does this course conflict with Biology, which I already plan on taking?
  • Is this going to be taught again while I’m at Wesleyan?

Keep the narrowing down going with some pros/cons tables, and keep in mind that many of these courses will be available to you in future semesters. Of course contact the peers advisors either as a whole at peeradvisors(at)wesleyan.edu or individually–see our about us page for contact info.


Happy Monday and stay tuned for part II in which I’ll get to the second question: how do I get into the course?

Feeling overcrowded by all the people looking stressed out anywhere you want to study? Getting easily distracted in your room,  annoyed with hearing people chat in Sci Li, and consistently not getting an armchair in Olin? It might just be that time of year where your brain needs a change of scenery.

Here’s the good news: there are a A LOT of golden and woefully underutilized study spaces on campus. Most classrooms can be accessed for personal use until midnight! Sometimes they are reserved for events, lectures or meetings (even after classes are over) so you’ll want to check before you go to make sure you won’t get kicked out. How can you go about doing this? Check through the Virtual EMS Room Request system. This is a program you can access through your Student Portfolio (Look under “Event Scheduling & Calendaring” > “Room Request – EMS”).

Sidenote: The Virtual EMS Room Request system is used to reserve rooms for any events, meetings, etc. that you might want to schedule on campus so it’s helpful to know how to use no matter what. If you need a space for your student group or for a self-organized study group, you can actually reserve spaces through EMS but, in this case, you can also just use it to check out if a room will be occupied and not actually make a reservation. To do so, click the link, scroll over “Reservations” and click “Student Room Request,” then fill out some of the information about the type of room you want. Choosing “Board/Seminar Style” or “Classroom Style” are good ways to go and filling in about 5 people for the number would be fine (unless you’ll be in a group). Then click “Find Space” and check out the options — if something is being used during a time slot, the program will highlight it and usually say “Private” or list the reserved use of the space. If you want to actually make a reservation ahead of time so that you can be sure you have the space to yourself, click the “+” button and follow the prompts.

Below are some of  the peer advisors’ (current and past) favorite, off-the-beaten-path study spaces on campus. Feel free to share yours in the comments!

Allbritton 311

IMG_5327 IMG_5328

Keep walking up the stairs of Allbritton (or take the elevator to the top), and you’ll find this rooftop oasis. Normally set up with tables and chairs, this is an excellent and usually quiet place to study. On a nice day, go outside and enjoy the stunning view!


Downey House Lounge

This is the lounge on the first floor of Downey House. Sometimes it’s reserved for talks or events, but most of the time it’s completely empty and beautiful! If you check it out and see people there, find the staircase in Downey and follow it up until you get to the roof, where you’ll find a small nook with two cozy armchairs and a table. 


Allbritton 113

This room is on the first floor of Allbritton, to the right when you walk up the stairs. I call it the “War Room,” because I’m a dork and it reminds me of what I imagine White House emergency planning rooms look like… kind of like this:

Emergency study sesh! Who wants a Weshop break??


Classrooms in 41 Wyllys

This room is Room 114 but really all of these new classrooms are beautiful, well-lit, have that brand-new smell, and–best of all–easy access to Usdan for trips to late night. Reserve them with a group of friends or just go on your own and see if one is empty. Also check out the COL library on the second floor.


Usdan Meeting Rooms

This room is Usdan 134, but there are also lots of great spaces on the first floor of Usdan. They’re quiet and very spacious, with lots of outlets. Also remember that when not being used for faculty dining/university events (which are during lunch and some events in the evening) the Daniel Family Commons (DFC) on the third floor of Usdan is open to students for studying. Definitely check it out on EMS.

How do you keep track of your responsibilities during the most challenging parts of the semester?

Ever since they took the blocks and coloring books away after first grade, the demand to ‘get things done’ has been the norm. But let’s face it: managing all our responsibilities in the unstructured world of college remains a huge challenge for many (including yours truly!).  The obvious and usually favorable answer here is to use a planner to manage your assignments over the long run, but often enough–as happens with new years resolutions–plans and planners get neglected and forgotten.

Instead of focusing on only one way to manage your assignments, I want to offer some advice on getting things done on a short term basis–sans that spiral bound organizer. For those of you who feel up to the commitment of using a planner, see my other post for some similar helpful tips. Otherwise here are my two cents on a low maintenance, week-to-week approach to staying on top of things.





“We just have to focus on the present.” 

Bill Belichick ’75 is king when it comes to short term planning. Despite having 20+ games to deal with each year, he treats each week as its own season. Sound crazy? Tell that to his five Super Bowl rings.






When faced with the most demanding assignments, in lieu of a planner, I’ll adopt a Belichick short term approach. To start I’ll get a sheet of loose leaf paper and head it with two category labels on each side: RESPONSIBILITIES and GAMEPLAN. For responsibilities, I’ll write out the logistical details of various assignments as such:

  • Stats: Ch 12, problems 2, 15, 18, 23. Due Tuesday Morning
  • Orgo Lab: Quiz Friday, Report on Caffeine Lab with methods due Wednesday Evening
  • Jobs: Venture for America Application Deadline Due Saturday @ 12PM
  • Psychology: Presentation, Thursday @ 2PM

I’ll spare you from more details, but the point of this section is to have all pertinent information like due dates and assigned reading chapters readily available. In some cases just knowing what’s due when is helpful enough to get things done, but as you’ll see in the next section, a more structured game plan can be essential.

For creating a gameplan, I put on my Belichick thinking cap hoodie and strategize how to break down my responsibilities into realistic tasks. Let’s take the psychology presentation, for example. This is a big assignment that as a single phrase on a page can be vague and feel overwhelming to approach. Here’s what a spelled out, game-plan version looks like for the presentation:

  • Gloss over assigned article and acquire general background information on topic, highlighting key terms and identifying any areas of confusion (Monday)
  • In bullets, write out central points of the article and any relevant connections with class topics. Write the purpose and big picture of the article/presentation in one to three sentences (Monday night)
  • Meet with Psych Professor and talk through my summarizing sentence and central points. Ask for feedback and structural suggestions for powerpoint (Tuesday)
  • Revise central points and convert them into powerpoint slides in accordance with presentation guide on Moodle (Tuesday Night)
  • Practice presentation 3 times in front of mirror. First, make notes on changes and modify powerpoint; second, revise for time; third , have one polished completion of presentation (Wednesday)
  • One last practice (Thursday, GAMEDAY)

The key to writing a game plan is to make tasks specific and realistic. You should know how to do a given task and have confidence that you can complete it within the assigned time. Don’t be hard on yourself, though, if things don’t work out as planned. The whole point of writing a separate ‘gameplan’ is to implement a flexible strategy that works for you–if one doesn’t turn out well, come up with another!

If you’re at all on the fence about making a commitment to a planner, try the responsibilities-gameplan strategy. I generally do both, putting the ‘responsibilities’ on a weekly planner and writing out ‘gameplans’ on loose leaf paper or index cards every few days. Being able to set goals and follow through with them will improve both the quality of your work as well as your general productivity. Be on top of your assignments just like your favorite coach and give game-planning a shot!


Of the many essential skills in college, knowing how to write your professor is one that should not be overlooked.  Whether for claiming the last seat in a class, getting answers to course questions, or generally making a positive impression, a strong email can go a long way.  The following is a simple framework from which you can base your own emails.

Starting out: can’t go wrong with “Dear” 

Some say “Dear” sounds overly formal. It’s not! Using “Dear” is the most direct way of showing your professor an essential level of respect. While “Hi” can be appropriate in causal settings with your friends, never use it when emailing your profs for the first time.

Dear Professor Taylor,

Introduce yourself!

If you have never written to or met the professor in question, the best way to start the email is with a quick self-introduction. Keep it basic to things like your name, class year, and major (when applicable).

My name is Faisal Kirdar and I am a Senior majoring in Neuroscience.

Why are you writing?

A good second sentence will get right to the point: why are you writing? This is where you state your purpose. This should also be stated in the subject of the email in no more than 4 words.

I am writing to inquire if it is possible to go over a few course topics; in particular I am having trouble understanding molecular orbital diagrams.

If you have a question, be sure to ask it

Often the reason you’ll write your professors is to ask a question or several questions. It’s important not just to say I am writing to ask you about molecular orbital diagrams; you must also give something specific to which your professor can respond.  If the question is very specific and can be answered quickly via email, ask it. If it requires more interaction, then the question should be geared toward scheduling an appointment to do so.

Is there a convenient time for us to meet this week?

Arm your professor with relevant info

Provide as much relevant information as you can. If you are requesting a time to meet, let them know your availability. This will make it easier for your professor to respond promptly.

I’m available Mondays and Wednesdays from 12-4 PM.

Tell them what you want them to do

Make it even easier for your professor to respond to you by finishing the note with a clear, polite instruction.

Please let me know what time is most convenient for your schedule.

End with a friendly and polite send off

It is important to end the email on a positive note and further demonstrate your respect for the professor. This ensures a strong impression and in some cases encourages the professor to respond more quickly.

Thanks for your help and I look forward to hearing from you.




In your college careers you will write hundreds thousands of emails, many of which are bound to differ from one another. The two main things to always keep in mind are: have a purpose–why are you writing this professor–and demonstrate respect. Doing so will both improve your relations with your professor and get you what you want faster.

This in from Catherine MacLean ’14 (also an NSO PA):


Only a few short weeks until you’re joining us in the adventure that is Wesleyan! There’s a lot to do between now, and then, and a lot you will be doing here to transition to college.

College is very different from high school. One of the main ways that it is different is that you are expected to advocate and care for yourself much more like the independent adult you are than you ever have before. One area in which this is new for many students is physical and mental health and disability.

Continue Reading »

Maggie Feldman-Pitch ’14


My name is Maggie and I’m a senior University Major studying Theories of Ethics in Capitalism; if you’re crazy enough to be considering a UM definitely come find me. I’m working on a senior thesis comparing various corporate governance structures ability to address individual claims of justice throughout the supply chain, specifically in the fashion industry.

When I’m not begging professors to let me into their classes during Drop/Add, you can find me putting together voter registration/climate change/feminism themed routines with my fellow Wesleyan Cheerleaders, tweeting non-stop to the Wesleying handle, or forcing my friends to look at cute animal pictures on BuzzFeed. I’m an active member of the Jewish student community, 2014 Class Council, and Rho Epsilon Pi, the Wesleyan-only sorority. Plus, I can also give you a solid ranking of Middletown-area restaurants by food allergy friendliness.

I’m looking forward to meeting you all (or at least some of you) at NSO, but please feel free to send me a quick, or not so quick, email with any questions (mfeldmanpilt@wesleyan.edu) or just to say hi!







Julio Angel ’16

a Julio

My name is Julio and I’m a rising sophomore from Hermiston, Oregon. I am still undecided on my major, but I’m heavily leaning towards one in the sciences because science is cool. Outside the classroom you can see me dancing with Caliente, the Latin dance group on campus, or playing volleyball. I can’t wait to meet you during orientation and get you started on your Wesleyan adventure! Email me in the meantime with any questions at jangel@wesleyan.edu


Katie Deane ’14


Hi, I’m Katie. I will be graduating next May with a double-major in German Studies and Studio Art (photography and sculpture). I enjoy reading cultural criticism and theory both in and out of class, and have relocated a large chunk of Olin’s holdings to my bedroom bookshelf. I have participated in a number of Film Studies thesis films and intend to make more films after graduation, in between art projects and graduate degrees. Ideally, this fantasy future will take place in Berlin. If you have any questions or just want to say hey, feel free to email me at kdeane(at)wesleyan.edu.










a MaryMary DePascale ’16

Hi! I’m Mary, and I’m a sophomore from southern Maine. I’m undeclared but am a prospective Spanish and Psychology double major and am hoping to be able to complete the Writing Certificate as well.

Outside of class I love to read, write poetry, sing/play music, dance and play basketball! On campus I have been involved in the Catholic Student Organization, Wesleyan Cheerleading, the Ascend tutoring program at local Middletown elementary schools, Second Stage’s production of Footloose, Terp dance, and Spring Dance. This summer I spent 5 weeks abroad in Valencia, Spain taking classes and exploring the city through the University of Virginia’s Hispanic Studies program. It was an incredible experience, though I am definitely glad to return home to the US and to Wesleyan.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in person or at my email mdepascale(at)wesleyan.edu; I’d be happy to help!





aroxyRoxy Capron ’14

I am a rising senior from Evanston, Illinois.  I transferred to Wesleyan from Emory University as a sophomore to pursue majors in Psychology and Classical Studies. This summer after studying in Vienna for six weeks, I joined WILD Wes – check out the stairs we built outside Summerfields! During the school year you can probably find me at the pool competing for the varsity swim team  – Go Cardinals! I am also an active member of Rho Epsilon Pi and WesAGE. Please email me with questions at rcapron(at)wesleyan.edu!

Alexandra De la Cruz ’16


I’m Alexandra, a Sophomore from the Dominican Republic and a prospective Film Studies major. I’m a member of the OISA-SAG, an organization destined to help international students transition to campus, and of the Wesleyan Women in Film Group. While at Wesleyan, I’ve worked at the Center for the Arts, at Oddfellows Playhouse and for Univeristy Relations. I’ve also helped in a couple of Film Theses and I’ve danced in the Terp and Spring Dance shows. If you have questions about any of those, feel free to contact me at adelacruz(at)wesleyan.edu. I hope you all have a great first year at WES!

Andrew Hove ’15


My name is Andrew and I’m a junior, born and raised in San Francisco, California. I’m double majoring in Economics and Psychology, along with the certificate of the Study of Education. Outside of the classroom, I’m a pitcher on the varsity baseball team, in the a cappella group “New Group,” in a 90s-cover band (excluding Creed), and I’m a huge fan of hiking, kayaking, and the occasional long walk on the beach. Don’t hesitate to say hello or email me at ahove@wesleyan.edu. I hope to meet all of you!















Simon Chen ‘16

asimonHey, I’m Simon. A New York City native, I’m prospectively majoring in Economics and East Asian studies here at Wes. With that said, I’m interested in exploring the political-economic development of countries in the East Asia region—especially China in it’s rapid rise.

Outside of my studies, I’m a student teacher at the local Neighborhood Preschool , a captain on the Wesleyan Mock Trial team (, and a member of the Woodrow Wilson Debate society—so if any of these things spark your interest, get at me.

You’ll definitely catch me at Pi early mornings and SciLi late nights, so feel free to ask any questions at schen04(at)wesleyan.edu or just say hi. See you at Wes!

On What to Pack

I just saw this ‘what to pack’ post on Wesleying (another really good blog that you should totally add to your browser bookmarks) and thought I’d add a couple suggestions to their pretty extensive list. This list was intentionally long and detailed, so first off, don’t feel compelled to bring everything on it. I’ve survived my career at Wes without a swiss army knife or sewing needles–though, I still have another year, so who knows!

Obviously you’ll want essentials like bedding, towels, medication, and can’t-leave-behind-souvenirs, but you’ll be surprised how much useful stuff you’ll be able to salvage once your on campus. In particular look out for waste not, a tag-sale held around arrival day that is packed with preowned dorm room goods. I’ll let you all use your judgement for the rest of the list, but do want to make some specific recommendations regarding schools supplies.

binder picpuncher

I think the most important part of this list is getting binders/notebooks for your classes. As neat and clean as you’ll get your rooms to be upon moving in, even the most organized at heart will succumb to the chaos of living in a college dorm room at one point or another. While this is totally normal, it’s important to separate your messy room from your school papers.  Getting a binder for all your classes is a great way to manage your documents and be able to evacuate to uncluttered study spots conveniently. With the binders I recommend bringing a hole puncher (seriously, get one it’s a life saver), dividers and loose leaf paper.

I swear I’m not working for staples but just to be totally helpful these are the specs with links that I recommend:

-Binder: Avery Durable 1 ” Binder for each class (explore the colors) + dividers. These binders are very good quality and will last many semesters. Save in the long run.

-Hole puncher: Heavy duty option (so worth it IMO but to each his own) or standard (still good).

Additionally–not sure if this is too obvious–bring your favorite pens and pencils. Sometimes the selection at the bookstore doesn’t fit everyone’s needs so if you’re attached to a certain kind of writing utensil, bring a bunch to stay covered for the semester.

Last and certainly not least, bring or think about how you’d like to use a planner. We’ll be supplying all students with with a small 5″x7″ Wesleyan one which works well for most and has key Wes-specific dates already marked in them. However for those who prefer bigger planners or even digital formats, be sure to arrive with a planner plan in mind with the necessary materials.

Let’s face it: packing for school is hard. For the most part, you’re not sure what you’ll need and want, especially when space is limited. This goes for school supplies and most of the items on the wesleying list. The main thing to ask yourself when planning out your own list is what must I have for the first few days of class and what is more flexible? I think having a binder for notes, something to write with, and a planner for ‘to-do’s’ falls in the ‘must’ category and is worth pursuing early; however, as will generally be the case in college, the choice is yours.




Catherine MacLean ’14

I’m Catherine, a rising senior double majoring in Biology and the Science in Society Program from Hamilton, MA. I love that Wesleyan has given me the opportunity to pursue really diverse interests, and to find connections between the topics that interest me.

When I’m not in class, I can be found cheering on Wesleyan sports teams with the Cardinal Players Pep Band, or running a workshop, film screening or other activist event with Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights. I take yoga classes on campus which are taught by Wesleyan students through a program called WesBAM (get used to putting “Wes” in front of everything, it’s a fact of life around here). You might also run into me in the Microforms Center in Olin Library, where I work, or in Exley Science Center, because I spend quite a lot of time there. I’ve been a Student Note Taker for the Office of Disability Services and a Tutor for Wes students through the Deans Office. Last fall I was a TA for Introductory Biology in one of Wesleyan’s innovative small-section classes which featured interactive group problem solving as a major portion of the course. I’ve also been a TA for break out problem solving sessions in Introductory Physics.
This summer, I’m interning for The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare and The Aplastic anemia & MDS International Foundation, working on health education materials for providers and patients. On the commute and in my spare time, I keep in touch with friends, read, write, and watch internet videos. I also take occasional work as a tutor and catering waiter.
If you have any questions about Biology, SISP (in my opinion, Wesleyan’s best-kept secret that shouldn’t be a secret), Pep Band, WSDR, jobs on campus, academics, or anything about life at Wesleyan, feel free to drop me a line at cmaclean_at_wesleyan.edu.
Natalie Robichaud ’14

My name is Natalie and I am a rising senior, which makes me super jealous of you all for having 4 whole years left. I am an English major and French minor from South Carolina and I work with University Communications and at the Red and Black Café in the campus bookstore. In my spare time, I take yoga classes with WesBAM and watch too much tv. Random things I love to talk about: ballet, animals, cooking, and LOTR. I’m excited to meet you guys and show you how amazing your next four years are going to be! In the mean time feel free to email me at nrobichaud(at)wesleyan.edu with any questions!












Henry Cheung ‘14

Dabbling in the Math, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, and Neuroscience & Behavior Departments, I have had the opportunity to explore almost all of the natural sciences at Wesleyan in one way or another. Outside of academics, I am involved in several organizations on campus namely Wesleyan Science Outreach and WesReads/WesMath.

You will often see me me in Exley chugging Pi’s many creative (and caffeinated) beverages as well as in the gym lifting weights or playing basketball. Shoot me an email at hcheung@wesleyan.edu!

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