Pre-Registration Workshop!! Fri., Nov. 3 from 1-2 p.m.

Hello Class of 2021!

Confused about Pre-RegistrationDon’t know what classes to take? How to registerWant some snacks? Your Academic Peer Advisors (Rubye and Haley), Paul Turenne (from the Registrar’s office), and Dean Brown (your class dean) want to help as you figure out course plans for the spring semester.

We are hosting a workshop this Friday, November 3 from 1:00-2:00PM in Usdan 108Come join us for Pre-Reg tips and tricks (and treats)!  Bring your questions and concerns!

REMINDER: Pre-Registration planning for your next semester classes is open now and closes on Monday, November 13 at 5:00PM.   Before then, you must meet with your faculty advisor about your tentative course selection for discussion and approval, so make an appointment now!  Scheduling occurs on November 14

Get to Know Your Professors this Fall

Your first semester is not too soon to get to know your professors.  Not only will you feel more confident about course material from going to their office hours (really, they schedule them for you!), but also you will learn more about the department, the discipline/field, research opportunities, and the university.  Make a point to go to office hours once a week for each of your courses.  If you don’t have specific course questions, bring in an article that might be of shared interest.  An additional option is to invite your professor or advisor to lunch and bring another classmate or advisee with you.  Establishing a good academic relationship will help the faculty member to write you a substantive letter of recommendation should you need one for a summer job or internship.

Check out the piece by former Student Academic Resources Intern, Claire Wright ’16, entitled “How Do I Get to Know My Professors?”   She has some good suggestions.  Note that while you can still take a professor to lunch, the process is different now.  You will be hearing more about it from Dean Mike, the Vice President for Student Affairs, sometime in early September.

 

Advice from a former Peer Advisor: Don’t Be Nervous!

Peer Advisor Rachel Earnhardt ’17 wrote this for the incoming Class of 2020, but good advice never gets old!

It was in the Container Store, standing among clearance laundry baskets and desk organizing supplies sometime in early August, that I had a *minor* meltdown about starting college. Somehow, browsing for reasonably priced, but sturdy dorm necessities had made college feel so suddenly imminent and terrifying. If you find yourself having a similar experience, whether it be in Target or Bed Bath & Beyond or anywhere else really, I’m here to say that’s completely normal.

If you are totally chill and prepped and ready for college, then I envy you. Likely though, if you have traversed the internet to find this humble peer advisor blog post titled “Don’t be Nervous,” you are feeling anxious or excited or overwhelmed or some combination about starting college and would like to hear from some “wise” not much older soul who’s been there. I hope you find my personal narrative and unsolicited advice reassuring.

Okay, let’s rewind to the weeks leading up to the Container Store Incident. The summer before my first year at Wesleyan, I had my first real job working as an assistant camp instructor at the natural science museum. For several weeks, I stayed gloriously busy doing bug-themed crafts and making dinosaur footprint cookies and leading nature hikes and deliberating about how long I could avoid washing my staff shirt, but then, abruptly, camp ended. And the whole month of August was empty. It stretched out…a painfully open, unplanned void. This unscheduled month meant that I had four weeks with nothing to do other than think about heading off to college.

Let us rewind a bit more to April of my senior year. I had made an exhaustive spreadsheet, titled “The Decider.” With nearly 25 categories (like food, climate, “do I have to take a math class?”, faculty to student ratio, etc) I had meticulously input data about all the schools to which I had been accepted. I had been blessed with several wonderful options, many very similar to Wesleyan. But after careful analysis, Wes emerged as the clear choice. The last (and most important) category of my spreadsheet was titled “good vibes?” Next to other colleges, I wrote things like “too cold” and “too radical.” By Wesleyan, I had written the succinct, but completely confident: “Yeah.”

Yet still, even though I had penned this definitive assessment and highlighted the Wesleyan column in green on the spreadsheet, sent in my deposit, and bought my “Wesleyan Girls: Making Connecticut Beautiful Everyday” shirt, throughout the month of August, I woke up wondering. Wondering about each of the other schools from my spreadsheet, and even ones that I had not even applied to. For example, I had to remind myself that I crossed colleges in the state of Minnesota off my list for a reason (I’m sure it’s a great state, but I’m from the South and I’ve always just pictured a frozen hellscape). In retrospect, I realize that channeling my energy into my college choice stemmed from a general anxiety about going 900 miles away for school, where I didn’t know anyone.

Side note: It was also in August 2013 that I discovered College Confidential, which is sort of the underbelly of the internet. I stayed up for hours consuming the crowd-sourced anxiety about selecting a school and prepping for college. I also read countless Buzzfeed articles and mediocre blogs about the first year of college. *This was ultimately counterproductive and I do not recommend it.

But back to the story, fast-forwarding a bit to late August. After returning several items purchased in the heat of the moment to the Container Store, I had acquired everything on the packing list (and a bunch of things I didn’t need). We packed the car and began the eleven-hour drive from North Carolina to Connecticut.

I arrived in Middletown the day before move-in and led my parents on a tour of my new home. Draped in the flowers of late summer, the verdant campus was even more welcoming that it had been during our first encounter. (Okay, here comes the corny part): As I stood on the top of Foss hill looking out at College Row under the dome of blue sky, I knew that I would have the incredible opportunity to grow in profound ways over the next four years. I had picked a wonderful place to learn and prepare to make positive impact in the world.

I would be lying if I said that every ounce of anxiety evaporated during the first days or weeks or even months on campus. Eventually, I found my community and I can confidently predict that you will, too. Here is a whole paragraph of encouraging, very sincere reassurance:

If you are wondering if Wesleyan made a mistake admitting you: they didn’t. Or if you made a mistake in choosing it: you didn’t.  You are intelligent and capable. You will be surrounded by 780 interesting, smart, creative, idealistic people in your first year class. You will be able to find common ground with plenty of other people (even if you may not find those souls on your hall). It may take a few days or weeks or months, but you will meet friends and find professors with whom you connect. You may get overwhelmed by the coursework or, on the other end of the spectrum, find that some your courses are not what you expected, but there are plenty of people around to commiserate with and more importantly, to provide support and guidance. You will change your mind and your major and likely your haircut several times…and that’s all expected and celebrated!

Because I didn’t know where else to put it—here it is the obligatory list of unsolicited advice about preparing for college/the first few weeks (in no particular order) that you will probably ignore:

  • Go to different club meetings and activities. It might take a little time, but you will meet people who share your interests. I don’t want to minimize your unique personality, but there are plenty of other folks who are interested in science AND movies!! And yes, there will be at least one other person interested in starting a band.
  • Your hall will likely fuse together for a few days. That’s totally normal. Try to expand a little…Ask people from your classes or activities to lunch or coffee or to the Film Series or a WesBAM class. (Please feel free to contact me for other friend date suggestions.)
  • If you are unsure about ANYTHING, reach out to the peer advisors, the RAs, CAPS, OSRL, the deans, your orientation leaders or any the other groovy resources available.
  • Orientation specific: Go to all the events! Maybe you feel like you met your new bae or best friend and you will never hang out again if you separate to go to the meetings….but more than likely, you will learn something important at the orientation event.
  • Real talk: Across the nation, the first two months of the fall semester see an unsettling spike in alcohol hospitalizations. Please, please take care of each other.
  • Your residential advisors and orientation leaders are so excited to welcome you to campus. Maybe you don’t connect with them on a spiritual level and that’s totally fine.
  • ******Academics don’t happen in a vacuum. Your emotional, physical and mental well-being are all intimately a part of your experience and affect your ability to succeed (whatever success means to you). ******

So let’s wrap up. You’ll recall several paragraphs ago I explained that in my spreadsheet, by Wesleyan I had written: “Yeah.” I will now artfully use that as a nice frame for this post.

Is there an expansive network of resources and people (students, faculty, staff, peer advisors, the list goes on…) to support you throughout your Wesleyan journey so that you can get the most out your time here and go on to be a thoughtful and engaged citizen? Is the entire Wesleyan community so jazzed to have you join us?

Yeah!!!!!!!

The title of the post is “don’t be nervous,” but I had plenty of people tell me that and I didn’t listen. If you’re nervous, there’s not much I can say to change that. Nervous or not, either way, you will arrive in Middletown… and more than likely you will thrive here.

So, again, if in the next couple weeks you have any moments of doubt or anxiety or maybe you just get so excited you can’t breath, please feel free to reach out to the peer advisors (or one of the many aforementioned resources).

And of course, I invite you to have a last minute existential crisis in your local dorm supply depot. It can be quite cathartic.

 

The Rule of 7

If there is a magic or golden rule for college, it is the Rule of 7.

You have probably never heard of it before, but never mind that.  What it means is that you should take on no more than seven things this semester.  For real.  That includes your four courses and three other activities, whether that be a campus job, a sport or a student group.  I know this seems like an impossible thing to do, especially for those of you who were involved in 16 co-curricular activities in high school for the love of what you were doing and/or to get into a good college.

Now that you’re in one, scale it back so that you can step up to the intellectual demands and focus on your academic work.  (Did you know you are supposed to dedicate three to four hours of outside work for every class session of a 1.00 credit course?)  Scale it back so that you can be really engaged with each of your other activities and not burn out, especially in this first semester when you are also spending time and energy meeting new people, learning the landscape, and finding your place.  Okay, so you end up doing eight things, but as a good guide, keep in mind the Rule of 7.

Academic Support Resources

So where do you go or who do you call if you need academic support or study resources to help ensure your success in mastering course material, managing your time, or clearing your head to focus on work?

Check out the amazing list on the

Student Academic Resources homepage!

Some resources to highlight include your class dean–Dean Brown–and your faculty advisor (for academic and general advice and referrals), your professors (for each course), peer tutors (for course material, available after the drop/add period), the peer advisors (especially for study skills and planning), accessibility services (for a range of accommodations), the dean for international student affairs, the Writing and Math Workshops, the Quantitative Analysis Center, and the Language Resource Center.

There can, at times, be a fine line between academic and personal life, so if you need to regain your academic focus and figure out something that has been distracting you from your coursework, don’t hesitate to call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to set up an appointment with a therapist or contact one of the chaplains in the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL).  The Health Center and WesWell are also good resources in this regard as are the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the new Student Equity Resource Center.

We want you to be intellectually engaged, challenged and successful, so take advantage of the resources in place to support you in the process.

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.