Remain in Good Academic Standing: Know the Academic Standing Criteria

“Whaaat?” you ask, thinking that you haven’t even landed on campus and yet you are being advised to check out the criteria for academic review, promotion, and discipline.  I know—it may seem premature and irrelevant, especially since the Class of 2021 is a class of stellar, high-achieving students, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of Wesleyan’s expectations for your progress towards the degree (see 8/2 blog posting) and what that means.

Information about Academic Standing and the conditions for Warning, Probation, Strict Probation, Required Resignation, and Separation can be found in the Academic Review and Promotion section of the academic regulations.  It is wise (and your responsibility) to know them, so check out that section (and while you’re at it, the other academic regulations too).

Keep your academics front and center, and use the many resources on campus available to support your success so that you are always in Good Standing and engaged with your work!

Academic Reflection Essay — Do It!

If you have not had a chance to do your Academic Reflection Essay, located in your “Orientation Checklist & Resources,”  make sure that you complete and submit it in within the next week.  It is a good exercise in processing the past as you think about the future and helps you to focus in on how best to take advantage of your educational opportunities at Wes.

Although essay submission was requested for last month (ahem), this is the chance to get started on the right path.

Deadline for Course Registration Preferences — August 1, 5 p.m.

The time is drawing near to submit your ranked preferences for seven First Year Seminars and seven intro/general courses.  Check that you have a balanced schedule and that your plan of study:

  • has three of four courses in each of the three divisions (NSM, SBS, HA);
  • includes at least one in a subject you love and at least one in a new area to explore;
  • is distributed over the week and within the day (not all jammed up together);
  • has diversity in size and and format (small seminar, bigger lecture); and
  • has courses with different kinds of assignments/assessments.

If your interests lie with a more structured major, keep an eye on the introductory/gateway course, but other than that explore, explore, explore.  Take advantage of Wesleyan’s great liberal arts curriculum, and you will begin fulfilling the GenEd Expectations and refining your Competencies (see 7/26 posting).

On Thursday, the second day of orientation, you will be meeting with your faculty advisor, who needs to approve your plan to make it official.  You may revise your plan after that discussion or after you talk to department faculty at the Academic Forum that afternoon.  You can make these course changes during the Adjustment Period the next day on Friday morning and/or during the Drop/Add period, which runs through the first two weeks of classes.

So don’t sweat it now.  Read the Advising Guidelines, view the videos, and enjoy your exploration of WesMaps, Wesvising, and the planning process.  Then press submit!

Check your WesPortal after 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 22 for the results of the scheduling program—your course enrollments for the semester.  You will also see your faculty advisor assignment as well .

The Four Competencies at Wesleyan

COMPETENCIES AT WESLEYAN:  Approaches to Consider in Your Plan of Study

Flexible Framework for Considering Competencies

While at Wesleyan, students engage in the deep study of an academic field once they have declared a major, and they develop academic breadth through their general education coursework. In addition, they will also build broad, interdisciplinary skills through all of their curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities. Wesleyan has developed a flexible framework built on four competencies to allow students to engage voluntarily in a process of reflection (both in conjunction with advisors and on their own).

The four competencies:

  • Mapping = navigating complex environments (NCE)
  • Expressing = writing, expressing, communicating (WEC)
  • Mining = quantitative analysis and interpretation (QAI)
  • Engaging = negotiating intercultural differences (NID)

Mapping = Navigating Complex Environments (NCE)

Mapping is defined as the ability to examine the relationship of objects and spaces in the material and imagined worlds. It involves developing tools to create, manipulate, and navigate constructed and natural environments and charting movement through and interactions with space and its consequences.

Mapping courses may include courses across the curriculum, from the arts (e.g., dance, studio art, and art history), to the natural sciences and mathematics, as well as courses from interdisciplinary programs. Example skills include typography, computation, material science, modeling, and mapping.

Expressing = Writing, Expressing, Communicating (WEC)

Expressing is defined as the ability to express thoughts, ideas, and emotions to others effectively and concisely through a variety of media.

Expressing courses are principally but not solely in the humanities, arts, and social and behavioral sciences. These courses assign written, verbal, and creative projects, and performances that help students develop their ability to express thoughts and ideas to others.

Mining = Quantitative Analysis and Intepretation (QAI)

Mining is defined as the ability to use numerical ideas and methods to describe and analyze quantifiable phenomena. It involves learning about the measurement, analysis, summary, and presentation of information, including about the natural world, as well as answering questions, solving problems, making predictions, and testing and constructing theories by employing mathematical, statistical, logical, and scientific reasoning.

Mining courses are principally but not solely in mathematics, natural sciences, and social and behavioral sciences.

Engaging = Negotiating Intercultural Differences (NID)

Engaging is defined as the ability to comprehend and respect diverse cultural heritages and perspectives in relation to their wider historical and social contexts. It involves reading, speaking, or understanding a second or third language (contemporary or classical); gaining experience working, studying, or traveling abroad or in other unfamiliar cultural contexts; and participating in the political and social life of local and global communities.

Engaging courses may include courses across the curriculum, from language, literature, and culture courses, to courses in history, science in society, religion, government, and philosophy, among other areas.

Why Foreign Language Study is A Good Idea for Every Student!

Dean’s Note:  This is a great piece about the benefits of foreign-language study at Wesleyan.  As entering first-years, you are in a prime position either to begin a new language, especially if you want to reach the level needed to study in a country whose language Wes teaches, or to build upon your previous learning for greater fluency and deeper cultural immersion.

Why Foreign-Language Study is a Good Idea for Every Student  

We assume if you have reasons to learn a particular language (to study, work, travel, or live abroad or for resources not fully available in English translation), you already know why it is important. Here are reasons to study any language besides English or whatever you regard as your native language:

  1. Many employers, professional schools, and graduate schools see serious study of a second language (potentially, a double-major) as evidence that you can (a) put yourself more easily in others’ (colleagues’, clients’) shoes and (b) communicate more effectively even in English.
  2. You will never know your own language and culture more deeply than by studying another–by looking at it from the outside. Learning to thrive with the unfamiliar is often linked to creativity in many intellectual and professional contexts.
  3. Language learning teaches you to think more clearly and sharpens your brain’s ability to make sense of the world.
  4. Deep study of another culture through its language brings home how much of value will never be made available in English.
  5. Puzzling out another language and culture will help you understand (and empathize with) the difficulties of non-anglophone immigrants, colleagues, clients, and travelers in the U.S., even if you never leave American shores.
  6. Learning another language well makes it easier to learn any language in the future. Even if you never need this, the experience–especially if you study abroad–will make you far more confident in your ability to face any intellectual or professional challenge.  
  7. Foreign-language courses fit easily into study plans: offered on highly varied schedules, they provide a stimulating (and fun!) break from problem-set driven, heavy-reading or arts courses.

Wesleyan offers:

Arabic language and culture: http://www.wesleyan.edu/academics/faculty/aaissa/profile.html

American Sign Language: http://www.wesleyan.edu/lctls/courses.html

Classics (Greek and Latin): http://wesleyan.edu/classics/

East Asian Studies (Chinese, Japanese, Korean): http://wesleyan.edu/ceas/

German studies: http://wesleyan.edu/german/

Hebrew language and culture: http://www.wesleyan.edu/academics/faculty/dkatz01/profile.html

Romance Languages & Literatures (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish): http://wesleyan.edu/romance/

Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies program: http://wesleyan.edu/russian/

Any other language: http://www.wesleyan.edu/lctls/silp.html

Take the Placement Exam if you have questions about the level at which you should begin, and if you have questions prior to your meeting with your faculty advisor, do not hesitate to contact Dean Brown’s office at 860-685-2758 with questions.

 

Thoughts from a Peer Advisor: “Being a Self-Advocate: Communication is the Key to Success”

Being A Self-Advocate: Communication is the Key to Success

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the verb advocate means to “publicly recommend or support.” Advocacy, the noun conjugation of advocate, is defined as “public support for or recommendation for a particular cause or policy.” However, self-advocate and self-advocacy are not officially defined in any dictionary that I could find, and yet they are incredibly important – shall I say, essential – to everyday life. But what do they mean?

Self-advocacy is defined by wrightslaw.com as the following:

“Self-advocacy is learning how to speak up for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, learning how to get information so that you can understand things that are of interest to you, finding out who will support you in your journey, knowing your right and responsibilities, problem solving, listening and learning, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship, and learning about self-determination.”

Now, that is a lot of information, and a lot of words, for what can be described in a much more concise, basic way: take the regular old word advocacy, and reflect it back onto yourself. So, essentially, self-advocacy could simply be defined as “public support for or recommendation for…” yep, you guessed it, “…yourself.”

To be a self-advocate, it is important to be able to represent yourself and speak up for yourself in the most effective way not only to your network of peers and professors, but also to your wider-ranging and more general community. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to speak up for yourself or ask strangers, or even peers and professors, for help, but that can be imperative in an educational setting. Too often, bright and engaged students (read: all Wesleyan students) fall through the cracks because they simply are uncomfortable asking for guidance and support.

Now, it is easy to say “just ask,” but it is much harder to actually do it. If and when you face discomfort, or hesitate when preparing to ask for something, whether it be an explanation for a grade, an extension on an assignment, or simply a time to meet, just remember this: all of the people you meet at Wesleyan truly want you to succeed. They are your support network, your safety net. They want you to be a self-advocate, simply so that they can accommodate and adjust to your wants and needs to further increase your likelihood of success. My advice? If you feel anticipation before saying something, sending an email, or even knocking on a door at office hours, take a deep breath, count to three, and try it. All you need is a split second of courage and the worst part, the anticipation part, will be over. Try it over and over again until it becomes more comfortable. And believe me, it will.

Another key part of being a self-advocate is communication. It can be incredibly difficult to articulate what you want to say in an in-person conversation, simply because you must listen, absorb, and process what the other person is saying in a very short amount of time. So, do not be afraid to take your time! Tell the other person you need a moment to think, or simply reflect back to them what they said to you to make sure you have heard it correctly. In-person conversation is an art, and the only way to develop your skills is to use them. Online conversation, however, is a totally different ballgame.

When corresponding online, or over the phone, remember that you are not there to represent yourself. Your facial expression and body language cannot help you (or hurt you!), so you must put it all into the email, text, or phone call. The other person cannot see you, but this can be a good thing. You can have notes written down, or typed up, so that you make sure you get to every point you want to make, or question you want to ask. Just remember that when sending an email, especially to a professor, always be as formal and respectful as possible; professors get hundreds of emails every day and will not be eager to respond to a “yo, sup?” Address the recipient by the most formal title they have, whether it be professor, Dr., Mr., Mrs., or Ms., and sign it with a thank you and your full name and class year. And, when in doubt, use your self-advocacy and communication skills: ask someone more experienced than you for help! Teamwork makes the dream work, and crafting the perfect email can definitely be a team activity.

Self-advocacy is all-encompassing; it is fluid, and changes depending on who is exhibiting it. One person’s strengths may be another person’s weaknesses; remember that you can take advantage the resources and people around you simply by asking. Try not to get discouraged; your first year at a new place can be incredibly difficult, but, like I said before, remember that everyone at Wesleyan wants you to succeed. As long as you are your best self, you will thrive. Go Wes!
Thanks for reading!

Haley Brumberger, 2020, Academic Peer Advisor

The Advising Guidelines!

If you haven’t checked out the Advising Guidelines, do so ASAP.  Important advice about how to think about your planning your course of study and specific advice about a range of topics.  It includes pearls of wisdom from your class dean–really! ;)–and sage advice from professors and the academic peer advisors.  Selected topics will be featured over the next couple of weeks, and reading now (or again) will reinforce all the good info you know.

Thinking of Majoring In CSS, COL or CEAS?

With over 1000 courses in 45 majors, 14 minors, 12 certificates, and a unique open curriculum choosing classes during pre-registration may seem like a stressful and daunting task. Many students come into Wesleyan without any idea of what they want to study – and that’s totally fine! For most students, major declaration does not happen until the second semester of sophomore year. However, Wesleyan has three majors that require declaration during the spring semester of freshman year. These programs are the College of Social Studies, the College of Letters, and the College of East Asian Studies. While we like to advise students to explore a wide range of classes in their first year of college and hone their interests, if you are thinking about one of these programs, it may affect the decisions that you make during pre-registration. This blog post will provide a description of each of these programs and some suggestions for those who are thinking about choosing one of these majors.

College of Social Studies. The College of Social Studies is a rigorous, multidisciplinary major focusing on History, Government, Political and Social Theory, and Economics. CSS is reading and writing intensive, encouraging intellectual independence with weekly essays, small group tutorials, and a vibrant intellectual environment.

College of Letters. The College of Letters is a interdisciplinary major for the study of European literature, history, and philosophy, from antiquity to the present. During these three years, students participate as a cohort in a series of colloquia in which they read and discuss works together (in English), learn to think critically about texts in relation to their contexts and influences—both European and non-European—and in relation to the disciplines that shape and are shaped by those texts. Majors also become proficient in a foreign language and study abroad in order to deepen their knowledge of another culture.

College of East Asian Studies. The College of East Asian Studies challenges students to understand China, Japan, and Korea through the rigors of language study and the analytical tools of various academic disciplines. This process demands both broad exposure to different subjects and a focused perspective on a particular feature of the East Asian landscape.

For those considering one of these three majors, here are some helpful tips as you select your classes and enter your first semester of college:

Deadlines. CSS, COL, and CEAS require major declaration in the spring of your freshman year. The deadline for CSS and COL is generally in March, and CEAS is in April. The application forms and the exact dates can be found on the department page of each major. If you are thinking about one of these majors, I would recommend talking to people who are in one of these majors or reaching out to any of the faculty members in the major as soon as possible.

Admission Requirements. All CSS majors must complete the economics prerequisite either by taking ECON101 and achieving a grade of CR or a letter grade of at least C- or by taking ECON110 and achieving a grade of CR or a letter grade of at least C-. Some students who have not completed the economics prerequisite are admitted each year on the condition that they must complete the prerequisite in the fall term of the sophomore year. Even if you are possibly thinking about majoring in CSS, I would consider enrolling in an economics course in the first or second semester of your freshmen year.

Language Requirements. COL and CEAS both have language requirements. COL majors must become proficient in a foreign language and study abroad in a country where the selected foreign language is spoken. CEAS majors are expected to take at least four semesters of East Asian language courses and reach a minimum of advanced-level (third-year) competency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Majors who are native speakers of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean are expected to study another East Asian language. Those who have already studied a foreign language relevant to one of these majors do not necessarily have to enroll in a foreign language in the first semester. However, for those who need to start at a beginning level, it is highly recommended that you enroll in a language course as early as possible.

General Education Expectations. Only CSS requires completion of Stage II general education requirements (three course credits in HA, SBS, and NSM, all from different departments or programs). However, CSS majors have until the end of junior year to complete Stage I general education requirements (two course credits in each area, all from different departments or programs). While COL and CEAS do not have general education requirements, it is highly recommended that ALL students complete Stage II general education requirements. A student who does not meet these expectations by the time of graduation will not be eligible for University honors, Phi Beta Kappa, honors in general scholarship, or for honors in certain departments and may not declare more than a combined total of two majors, certificates, and minors.

If you have any further questions about any of these three programs, we encourage you to check each college’s website in WesMaps and on Wesvising, and/or reach out to a peer advisor or to a faculty member in the specific department.