Thoughts from a Peer Advisor: Emailing Your Professors

In this age of informal social media, it can be unclear about how to address your professors et al.  The “Hey there” salutation doesn’t go over very well and use of first names comes by invitation.  Check out the following piece  written by former peer advisor, Faisal Kirdar ’14, which remains current to this day.

“Emailing Your Professor”

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.

**Additional advice from Dean Brown: 

  1. If you haven’t received a response within a few days, don’t hesitate to resend your email with a note recognizing that they have may missed yours in the deluge of email they receive.  Because this does happen, most people appreciate it–I certainly do–when a student kindly brings it to their attention. 
  2. Don’t let an email stop you from contacting a professor, faculty advisor, dean or other source of support.  You can always follow up immediately after class with a professor or go to office hours, which will be posted in course syllabi, on office doors, in their emails, or on department/office websites.  If you can’t make office hours or would like a little more time than those allow (usually they are short visits), let them know that.

New Course Added: Musical Theater Workshop–THEA 279

There’s a great opportunity in the upcoming semester (F 2017) for students interested in making musical theater.   Please note that there are prerequisites, but prerequisite over-rides may be available for students who have the appropriate skill set.  This can be done during the Adjustment period or Drop/Add period after consulting with the instructor.

Tony and Obie Award Winner, Greg Kotis (Urinetown) will be teaching the Music Theater Workshop, THEA 279.

Greg Kotis’s webpage lists this info about him:

Greg Kotis is the author of many plays and musicals including Michael von Siebenburg Melts Through the FloorboardsYeast Nation (Book/Lyrics), The Unhappiness PlaysThe Boring-est Poem in the WorldThe Truth About SantaPig FarmEat the TasteUrinetown (Book/Lyrics, for which he won an Obie Award and two Tony® Awards), and Jobey and Katherine.  His work has been produced and developed in theaters across the country and around the world, including Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Conservatory Theater, American Theater Company, Henry Miller’s Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Stage and Film, Perseverance Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, Soho Rep, South Coast Rep, and The Old Globe, among others.  Greg is a member of the Neo-Futurists, the Cardiff Giant Theater Company, ASCAP, the Dramatists Guild, and is a 2010-11 Lark Play Development Center Playwrights Workshop Fellow.  He grew up in Wellfleet, Massachusetts and now lives in Brooklyn with his wife Ayun Halliday, his daughter India, and his son Milo.

Additional information about Greg Kotis is at http://gregkotis.com/

Get Healthy, Stay Healthy and Be Involved with WesWell!

WesWell is the Office of Health Education located in the Davison Health Center. WesWell aims to be visible, engaging and support students in living their best, healthy lives. There are many ways for new students to get involved! WesWell’s Peer Health Advocates (PHAs) organize outreach events and interactive workshops throughout the year on topics like: self-care, safer sex, alcohol and other drugs, bystander intervention and even some really unique events like massage for stress relief during finals. In addition, students can meet with professional staff in WesWell for an individual session on a wide variety of topics–all the topics already mentioned and others like, learning how to get better sleep and transitioning to a new environment.

WesWell wants to meet the needs of every Wes student. For this reason, we work hard to support our substance-free students and our students in recovery. If you are a student in recovery wanting to make connections with other students in recovery and/or find resources please email: recovery@wesleyan.edu to get connected.

For more information on WesWell please visit our website: www.wesleyan.edu/weswell

To stay updated on WesWell events and PHA activities please connect with us via Facebook: www.facebook.com/weswell

 

Thoughts from a Peer Advisor: On Being a Student-Athlete

Welcome to Wesleyan! One of the most common questions peer advisors get asked is simply, “Will I have time to get all my school work done if I’m also an athlete?” Being a student-athlete at Wesleyan is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling way to spend you’re time here, but it can also be stressful. But not to worry! There are tons of resources at your fingertips to help you stay on top of your responsibilities on and off the field (or, for me, in and out of the pool).

Going into my freshman year, my greatest anxiety about starting school came from my fear that I simply would not have the time to finish homework or study for tests while swimming nearly year-round. I quickly realized that the key to balancing my time was to make a detailed schedule at the start of every week and stick to it. I would write down everything that needed to be done for each of my classes at the start of the week, include all the time I had committed to training, and make sure I had time to myself to have fun and relax. You would be surprised at how helpful laying out your schedule can be, especially when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

But not everything has to be done on your own. I asked my swim coach if he had any advice or if he could help me stay on top of everything. Communication was key. Not only did he assure me that I was capable of completing everything and achieving goals in the pool, he made it clear that he was as committed to my success in the classroom as he was to my success as a swimmer. He would have my support if I needed extra time to study and had to sit out a practice or if I needed to leave practice early in order to make it to Biology lab. Though it may not even be necessary to have to miss a practice, it is comforting to know that your professors and coaches are not fighting for your time – they are fighting for your success.

But perhaps you are worried less about staying on top of schoolwork and more worried about having some time to yourself outside of the library or the gym. As I’m sure you know, Wesleyan is full of opportunities to have fun and be free outside of both of those venues.  I strongly encourage every student-athlete to try something new! Between theater, music, dance, clubs, and many others, there are definitely ways to divide your time and have fun away from a sports team.

There is no doubt that student-athletes have busy lives. There are times when we have to make sacrifices, but it is always worth it. Not only do we get to be proud of our success in school, but we also have a whole separate part of our life, with a second family, that has our backs. Though having two demanding commitments can be stressful, we (the peer advisors), class deans, our professors, coaches, and are all here to offer support. Our number one goals are to see you achieve and to make sure you’re happy during your time at Wes. I am confident you will do great things as a student and as an athlete! See you soon!

Aidan Winn ’18, Academic Peer Advisor

Reminder–FYM Reading of Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Dear New Wesleyan Students,

Be prepared to share your thoughts and ideas when faculty, administrators, and fellow students engage you in conversation about Citizen: An American Lyric by MacArthur Genius grant-winning poet Claudia Rankine on Friday, September 1 of New Student Orientation.

All information regarding FYM 2021 can be found at: http://wesleyan.edu/orientation/first_year_matters.html.

The themes associated with Citizen are thought provoking and may challenge your thought and beliefs…so please be prepared!  For questions about accessing the text, contact the Summer Interns via 860-685-5666 or orientation@wesleyan.edu.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and we’ll see you in late August.

Kevin M. Butler, Assistant Dean of Students

End-of-Fall-Semester Travel Plans — Hold Off on Ticket Purchase

While it may seem early to be thinking about this, some of you are already looking at plane, train, or bus schedules for a trip back home or elsewhere at the end of the fall semester.  Don’t buy your ticket yet!  Wait until you know your final exam schedule.  While some courses have papers, others have sit-down exams that can be scheduled up to the last day of finals, so you should wait until you have confirmed your course schedule before purchasing any tickets.   You should not assume that you will be able to take your exam earlier than its scheduled time.

Course meeting days/times determine the exam period to which they are assigned.  There are three exam periods a day for three hours each from December 12 at 7 p.m. through December 16 at 5 p.m.

Check out the Registrar’s website for other calendars as well as the academic regulations.

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.

Honor Code and Code of Non-Academic Conduct Online Tutorial — due August 25

Wesleyan has a vibrant living-learning community that values the independence and responsibility students have in their intellectual and residential life.  The Honor Code is in place to help ensure academic integrity and the Code of Non-Academic Conduct exists to help students navigate their new community.  Both seek to ensure a community where students can pursue their educational goals.  The Honor Code and Code of Non-Academic Conduct tutorial is designed to help students gain a better understanding of the expectations and the processes regarding violations of each Code.  It is online as of today, August 3, and must be submitted by August 25.  For more information, see the Student Handbook.

What You Need to Do to Earn the B.A. or…Wesleyan’s Degree Requirements!!

You’re thinking, “What??  Why do I need to know about requirements for the degree now?  I haven’t even started and have four years to get on this stuff.”  Well, this is on of those “it’s-never-too- early truisms” needed to get a handle on what you have to accomplish to graduate and walk across the podium on Andrus Field to receive your diploma in May of 2021 (which is eons away).

So that there are no questions or issues as you make decisions along the way, the following is the bottom line needed to earn the Bachelor of Arts at Wesleyan:

  • 32.00 credits with no oversubscription
  • 16.00 Wesleyan-specific credits
  • six semesters in residence
  • G.P.A. of 74.00
  • completion of one major

Check out the Faculty & Student Advising Handbook’s Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements and also its Common Advising Questions section for more information.  Contact Dean Brown if you have questions.

Advice from a Peer Advisor: What to Bring to Wes!

SO, WHAT SHOULD YOU BRING TO WESLEYAN?

The month before college starts is a great time to begin thinking about what to bring to school. Wesleying, the student-run blog, posts an annual packing list for first-year students. This is their one from last year, but keep your eyes out for the most current post.

Wesleying’s post is extensive, and honestly I don’t have everything on their list (what even are drawer liners?), but just make sure, at the bare minimum, you bring: sheets/blankets/pillows, medications, a towel, shampoo/soap, shower shoes, and clothes appropriate for all seasons (you’re going to need shorts, but also a warm winter coat/snow boots). If you were assigned to one of the dorms with no air conditioning, such as the Butterfields or Nicolson, a fan is a must. It can be hot in Middletown in both September and May.

The school supplies you should bring to college are much more flexible. Think about what type of materials you used in high school. Did you like using notebooks? Three-ring binders? Your computer? I personally prefer a cheap 1-subject notebook and folder for each class. Walmart sells notebooks during school supply season for 19 CENTS! But if you know that you prefer binders, journals, composition books, the back of napkins, by all means, bring those. Also, this year I have discovered the wonderful uses of multicolored pens for studying, and it changed my life. You can get a pack of eight different colors for $2.35 (also at Walmart). I have been using these for the past year and none of them have run out yet!

If you know that you prefer to take notes on your computer, it would still be a good idea to bring a few notebooks and folders just in case you change your mind. Also, occasionally professors will not allow you to use your laptop in class.

Additionally, keep in mind that a planner is a must for college, whether it’s on your phone or a physical one. Every year Wesleyan supplies free planners to students. Last year you could just pick one up at Usdan (the main dining hall). The free ones are usually nice and have both weekly and monthly calendars.

If you are working on a tight budget, or just prefer to be more sustainable, consider going to Waste Not, the annual sale of lightly used items. The sale usually occurs the weekend before classes start. They have mini-fridges, microwaves, chairs, rugs, etc.

If you forget anything, no worries, you are within walking distance of Rite Aid, as well Weshop, and you can order things from Amazon/wherever to the package center. But keep in mind that the package lines can be absurdly long the first few days of classes, so try and avoid ordering too much stuff online in those first few weeks unless you like chilling in lines.

Lastly, Faisal wrote a PA blog post about packing a few years ago that may also be helpful to read. He suggests investing in a three-hole punch if you like to use binders, which I concur is smart.

Those are my quick tips for packing. If you have any questions about what to bring to Wesleyan, feel free to email me at jleete@wesleyan.edu.

Jackie Leete ’19, Academic Peer Advisor