Top 10 Recommendations for the First Year and Beyond

  1. Make Wesleyan yours: Find or create your spaces at Wesleyan, whether by joining an a cappella group or by loving your Physics lab. We have over two hundred student groups that you can sign up for. There are also jobs on campus.
  2. Build relationships: Seek out your instructors during office hours. This can be intimidating, but it is how you build a relationship and come to understand the course material better. Get to know your faculty advisor, work supervisor, your class dean, etc., as it’s important for you to know people; it’s also very important for them to know you!
  3. Learn from your classmates and try new things: Your peers have had a vast array of experiences, so make sure you’re supporting one another and growing together. Upperclassmen will be an invaluable resource as you transition to Wes. Also, make sure you try new things! Explore a new language, study abroad in a different part of the world, select a course with a topic that is completely new to you.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Wesleyan has an abundance of resources, whether the Writing Workshop, Academic Peer Advisors or Peer Tutors, as well as your Faculty Advisor, instructors and teaching assistants. Asking for help is hard, because it means being vulnerable, but it is essential to your success. First-year students sometimes see asking for help as a sign of weakness, but it is not. Asking for help is really a sign that you can make savvy use of your resources that will enable you to thrive.
  5. Wesleyan has its own culture with its own language: I have built a list of acronyms that might be helpful to you.
  6. Use your time wisely: You will suddenly have lots of unstructured time. Given the COVID situation and the need to practice social distancing, it will be challenging to to find ways to manage your time. High school is extremely structured, down to the minute, which is not the case in college. Now it’s up to you to be mindful of how you’re using your time, whether studying for a test, writing a paper, doing homework, getting to class, etc. Most students use a planner, whether electronic or paper. For example, once you have all of your courses set, you should look over all of your syllabi and then plan out all of the assignments across the semester, as you’ll know when your intense weeks will be. If those weeks include papers as well as tests, try to get those papers done earlier so that you can focus on just the tests during that week.
  7. Make sure that you’re having fun! Find ways to connect with friends.  It’s hard to be social when practicing social distancing, but with a little bit of imagination and determination it can be done. Practice mindfulness.
  8. Take care of yourself. Sleeping and eating well, avoiding as much stress as possible, all of these are important aspects of self-care. WesWell offers self-care education, programs and workshops, as does CAPS. We have at Wesleyan the Rule of 7, a guideline that recommends that you can pursue four courses and three activities, but really no more than that.
  9. Don’t let a disappointing grade derail you. If you don’t do as well on something as you had hoped, go see your instructor and discuss where you went wrong in order to improve your performance on the next assignment. A disappointing grade does not mean that you aren’t capable or that the Admissions Office made a mistake (they do not make mistakes!). Make sure that you’re reaching out for help in this moment rather than pulling back, as this has happened to countless students before. Check out the Wesleyan Resilience Project for stories of students who have gained from their moments of challenge.
  10. Your dean is here to help: Dean Leathers is available to you via email or zoom this summer and once the semester is underway.  You can schedule a drop-in appointment with her through her Google Calendar, or you can an email her at tleathers@wesleyan.edu to schedule a meeting if drop-in hours don’t fit your schedule.

Religious and Spiritual Life on Campus – ORSL Survey

Wesleyan is very diverse when it comes to religious and spiritual identities. In order to better understand and support students from 2025, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL) requests that you fill out the Religious and Spiritual Life survey in WesPortal which will take less than 30 seconds. For more info:
https://www.wesleyan.edu/orsl/index.html.

Missed the “All You Need to Know about Pre-Reg with the APAs and Dean Leathers” Session? Access Recording Info and Slides Below!

Topic: All You Need to Know about Pre-Reg with the Academic Peer Advisors (APAs) and Dean Leathers
Date: Jul 28, 2021 5:00PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Meeting Recording and Transcript:
https://wesleyan.zoom.us/rec/share/ydUcgolsQ_Pg8fcoAdkk8ViYBvor9v6HCSl3K_DnwAoFTQ8NPY1o7KRlSjjnEuAX.Zsqc4exFmmBDiU5n

Access Passcode: 2025RSTD&R

Note: You will need to sign in with your Wesleyan credentials to access the recording and transcript of the webinar.

Student’s Perspective on the “Rule of Seven”

Written by Maia Dawson ’24

When you come to Wesleyan you will have a lot of options as to what to do with your time, maybe more than you’ve ever had. First you have to choose your classes, and then (like me) you might be trying to find a work study job. You could have a varsity sport that’s been a constant in your life for as long as you can remember (again like me) or you could be reinventing yourself as a journalist and joining the team at the Argus, Wesleyan’s student-run newspaper (not like me, but self-reinvention is very cool and big here at Wesleyan). 

In this situation, which may feel like a select-all-that-apply multiple choice question with way more letters than are in the alphabet, we suggest that you pick 7 to avoid being stressed, distracted, and unsatisfied. Hence the trademark Wesleyan advice we give to all freshmen: follow the Rule of 7. It will help you maintain stability while you explore a breadth of topics at a place with a LOT of options. Also, keep in mind that this rule narrows as you become an upperclassman and your education becomes increasingly specialized. Each class counts as one, along with anything that regularly demands time and commitment. 

I had four classes, a work-study job, the track and field team, and frequent visits to the science library that were more social than studious. Throughout the year I tried to figure out not only what I liked to do with my time but how I liked to manage my time and focus. The Rule of 7 was a sort of backbone for figuring these things out. Coming out of the spring of my senior year I realized that I loved having the extra time that had emerged from all of the cancellations. I got to garden for the first time and really explore horticulture. One day I suddenly became interested in cooking and made fried green olives with tzatziki on the side. 

Sketches of various flowers

The purpose of this tangent was – I realized that I like to have a more loose schedule because I thrive when I am able to be spontaneous and constantly switch up my attention. So I reserved my “seventh” commitment for that spontaneity. Yes, sometimes I just chatted people up at the library, but I also was able to buy a betta fish one day and create a photo collection of the campus bathroom graffiti the next day. And the Rule of 7 actually didn’t feel imposing, like I wasn’t doing enough for my “career” because I wasn’t in a formally established club. It allowed me to really invest in certain projects or readings for my classes that I had a special connection to, or engage my spontaneity. Its definition of “commitment” is as loose as you want it to be, or as defined. Many of my friends had 7 definable commitments and managed them well because they followed this rule. Maybe you are unlike me and prefer a more tight and predictable schedule – The Rule of 7 can be adapted to you. 

Also part of this process of learning about how you navigate time (too existential?) is dropping things so you can pick something else up. An important part of learning is change and readjustment so don’t ever feel like you’re stuck with something. There is the alternative of perseverance, but I don’t have to lecture you on that. I’m just trying to get you to recognize that, though disarray is an important part of life, there are other ways to go about things. And at the risk of cancelling out the rest of this literary masterpiece: Less is more. Don’t join 5 clubs!

Don’t Be Nervous

By Rachel Earnhardt, Peer Advisor 2016

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 [920] 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 sometime between August 29 and September 1 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.

First Year Matters Common Reading “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together”

Dear New Students,

Each year the First Year Matters (FYM) Committee selects a common reading for the incoming class as an intellectual introduction to Wesleyan. Last fall we solicited from the community, texts and other media addressing the issues of race, ethnicity, or nationality. I’m pleased to announce that the committee has unanimously selected The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee. McGhee is a Distinguished Senior Fellow and immediate past president at Demos, a non-profit progressive US think tank.

Intertwined with poignant personal stories, and meaningful conversations with Americans from across the United States, “The Sum of Us” offers a wide-ranging perspective about economic and sociological issues and how money influences policy making in Washington. “McGhee examines the role that greed and racism play as it relates to the zero-sum game paradigm—the idea that progress for some comes at the expense of others” (Random House). From the diminished stature of unions to the inability of the wealthiest nation on earth to embrace universal healthcare, McGhee explains that ultimately the “solidarity dividend”—the gains that are realized when people come together across race to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own—is one surefire way to move us forward…together.

You will receive the ebook through your portfolio in the coming weeks as well as your first assignment–4 questions that you are required to answer. The Common Reading response is designed as a tool for you to begin articulating your synthesis of the book and will be made available to the faculty, staff, and student leaders that will be leading the group discussions during orientation. The submission deadline for the Common Reading responses is 5:00 pm on Friday, August 20. You will need to read the book and submit your response by this date in order to be fully prepared to engage with the material and get the most out of orientation.

If you have any questions, please be in touch with Tanesha Leathers, Dean for the Class of 2025, via classdean2025@wesleyan.edu or the Orientation Interns via orientation@wesleyan.edu. We hope that you enjoy this summer “reading” and we very much look forward to discussing the film with you. We are thrilled that you will be joining this wonderful community.

Sincerely,

Nicole Stanton
Vice President for Academic Affairs

Kevin M. Butler
Assistant Dean & Common Reading Chair

Directions for Accessing the FYM Common Reading, “The Sum of Us”

Here are the directions for accessing The Sum of Us:

  • Redeem through Google Play – visit help center for more info
    • Once redeemed, the book will appear in the Google Play account for that End User
  • End User will need a Google account (Google.com, Gmail.com, YouTube.com, etc.)
  • Once redeemed, user must be logged into Google Play with the same email they used to redeem the book (check icon on top right  to toggle between accounts if needed)

Please don’t hesitate to contact classdean2025@wesleyan.edu if you continue having difficulty.

Charting a Course through the Open Curriculum: A Conversation with Professor Gottschalk and Dean Leathers

The open curriculum affords every student the freedom to chart their own educational journey through Wesleyan. Because the curriculum is open, there are no required courses at Wesleyan other than the courses required to complete one’s major.  Students are expected to pursue intellectual breadth and depth during their four-year course of study, but the open curriculum does not proscribe any set path to achieve this goal.  Students are expected to find their own path.

So how do you navigate the open curriculum if there are no guideposts?  How do you chart a path through the open curriculum if you don’t yet know where you’re going?  This fall Wesleyan will be offering over a thousand courses in dozens of fields of study.  How will you decide which ones you want to take?

Peter Gottschalk, Professor of Religion, and Tanesha Leathers, Dean for the Class of 2025, will be hosting an open conversation on how to chart a course through the open curriculum via Zoom on Thursday, July 29, from 11:00am—12:00pm EDT.  If you would like to join this conversation, please sign up though this link (Wesleyan login required).

Fall 2021 Course Pre-Registration Opens on July 12

The course pre-registration platform opens July 12. Until the system closes on August 5, you will be able to browse WesMaps and rank your course preferences for the fall semester.  You will be informed of your course placements in mid-August.

You should begin to think in terms of building a manageable course of study that offers challenge as well as flexibility for you to explore the curriculum and discover new interests. As you pursue your educational goals, keep in mind the idea of constructing a schedule that is balanced, challenging, and interesting. An academic schedule is balanced when there is a combination of small and large classes, lecture and discussion, and variations in course content and focus (e.g., reading, writing, quantitative work, artistic activity). This can provide breadth and stimulate academic curiosity while keeping a schedule manageable yet challenging.

There is variation in class days and times and instruction mode. For some students, this is as important a consideration as what courses to choose. Without sacrificing intellectual rigor or interest, students should try to distribute their courses across the week and throughout the day in the way that works best for them.

Summer 2021 Course Request Form

Registration for summer FYS courses begins tomorrow! The Summer Course Request Form will will be available starting at 8:30am, EST. Courses will take place from Tuesday, July 6 through Wednesday, August 25, 2021. Fourteen First-Year Seminars (FYS) are being offered in addition to one lecture course. Check out more information about summer course offerings for the Class of 2025

Use the form to indicate your ranked preferences for the courses in which you would like to enroll.  We will do our best to place every student in a course, but due to space limitations we cannot guarantee placement. Every student who submits course preferences during this time period will have an equal chance of getting scheduled into a class. To access the form, navigate to:

WesPortal>Student Information>New Student Tasks>Summer Course Request Form

The form must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 21. You may return to the form anytime to adjust your rankings until the deadline. Students will be notified of their final course schedule by Monday, June 28.

No additional tuition will be charged for enrolling in a summer course; the cost is included in the regular academic year tuition fee. [Note that this program for the incoming class is entirely separate from Wesleyan’s Summer Session, which offers courses every summer with a tuition cost.] The course will be added to your academic history and applied towards the 32.00 credits required for graduation when you matriculate as a full-time student in the Fall.

Incoming first-year students are not required to take a summer FYS course. It’s an opportunity to get acclimated to academic life at Wesleyan, but we also realize some students may need a break and/or have competing obligations. We encourage you to take an FYS course in the fall or spring semester of this upcoming year if you decide not to pursue one this summer. You may check out FYS course offerings for the academic year through WesMaps.

If you have any questions, please contact Tanesha Leathers, Dean for the Class of 2025, at classdean2025@wesleyan.edu.