Welcome Class of 2025!

Hello Class of 2025 –

I hope your first week of classes has been enjoyable! There is so much excitement in the air as I watch many of you head to classes, stop by various administrative offices and interact with each other on the green outside my office (North College 202).

As I shared with many of you during our Giving Good Advice session hosted by the Academic Peer Advisors during orientation, I want you to consider three challenges this year:

  1. Be Engaged
  2. Be Open-Minded
  3. Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Continue to be engaged by participating in class discussions. Introduce yourself to your classmates and to other community members you see in the dining halls. Participate in all that Wesleyan has to offer academically and co-curricularly including the Student Involvement Fair this Friday 9/10 from 2pm – 5pm in the tent behind Usdan.

Be open-minded to new experiences both in and out of the classroom. Wesleyan’s open curriculum is perfect to explore courses in so many disciplines including disciplines that may not be your eventual major. You faculty advisor is an incredible resources for you. For peer support, our Academic Peer Advisors are also a great resource to help you explore various course options; they will host a series of workshops this fall focused on supporting you in your first year – more information to follow soon.

Be comfortable being uncomfortable. You are experiencing so much right now in your transition to Wesleyan; naturally, change can sometimes cause some discomfort. It’s important to recognize you are not alone in feeling this way. There are many resources on campus to support you in this transition including me as your Class Dean. While the transition may not be perfect or may not look like you expected it to, we grow significantly as individuals when we face challenges such as this one – you’re a Wesleyan student now and I am confident you will see much success during your time here and beyond!

I will send you emails and post blogs from time to time to check in. Some upcoming dates to keep in mind:

  • Writing at Wesleyan Workshop: Friday, 9/10 from 1pm – 2pm (Shapiro Center Patio)
  • Involvement Fest: Friday, 9/10 from 2pm to 5pm (tent behind Usdan)
  • Career Checklist – What To Know as A First Year: Tuesday 9/14 12 – 1pm (Olson Commons)
  • End of Drop/Add Period: Friday, 9/17
  • Grading Mode Decision: Friday, 10/1 by 5pm
  • Last day to withdraw from 1st quarter classes: Friday, 10/15
  • Fall Break: Saturday 10/23 – Tuesday 10/26
  • Homecoming & Family Weekend: Friday 10/29 – Sunday 10/31

Click here to review my contact information, schedule an appointment or to visit my in-person or zoom drop-in hours. I look forward to joining you on your Wesleyan journey!

Enrolling in the University and Resolving Action Items

Starting on Monday, August 30, at 8:30 a.m. EDT you will be required to enroll in the University. To enroll, login to WesPortal, click through the yellow alert banner at the top of the page, then click on the “Enroll Me” button.  Please be aware that you will not be able to participate in drop/add until you have enrolled in the University.  You must enroll in the University by Friday, September 17, at 11:59 p.m.

In addition to enrolling, you must resolve any holds in your list of Action Items.  To access your list, go to:

Portal > Enrollment Checklist & Addresses > Hold/Enroll

Instructions on how to resolve each action item are provided on the page.  Many action items can be resolved with a simple click of the mouse!

All action items must be resolved by Friday, September 10, at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  Please be aware that you will still be able to participate in drop/add even if you have unresolved action items (as long as you have already enrolled in the University using the “Enroll Me” button).

Preparing to Meet Your Faculty Advisor

The objective of the pre-major advising program is to help first-year students and sophomores think seriously about their educational objectives in the context of the liberal arts education offered at Wesleyan. Together with your faculty advisor, you should develop a challenging and coherent educational plan for the first two years, one that achieves curricular breadth while preparing for the depth that the major will bring in the last two years.

Here are some things to think about as you plan for your first meeting with your faculty advisor:

  • Breaking the ice. A good way to introduce yourself to your advisor is to tell them about your high school experience. A good way to get to know your advisor is to ask them how they became a college professor.
  • Know the curriculum. Familiarize yourself with WesMaps and with the websites of departments in which you plan to pursue coursework. What was the logic behind your course pre-registration strategy?  Be receptive to questions and suggestions.
  • Have goals in mind. What are your academic strengths?  What are your academic weaknesses and how do you plan to address them?  How do you plan to pursue breadth? How do you plan to pursue depth? Share concerns that may affect your success in the upcoming semester.  Be sure to make arrangements to schedule your next meeting.

For more information, please see the Faculty and Student Advising Handbook.

Tips for Student Athletes

Class of 2025 student athletes, it is unfathomable the hardships you have faced in the past year and half as you and your peers tried to pursue the sports that you love. While there is nothing that can be said to make up for lost moments, there are ways to use what you have learned as an athlete to prepare you for the academic rigor of Wesleyan.

Even as a student first, “athlete” remains a crucial part of your identity. The two go hand-in-hand in many ways. Below are some tips on how to best prepare for this upcoming semester with or without an official season impeding on your classes.

To start, time management is a big one. From the classroom to lifting back to the library then to practice and then a review session, your days can become very busy. Thus, it is essential that you find a way to best manage your time. Organization is a key factor of time management. It is so important that you implement some form of planner system or Google calendar to ensure that your classes do not overlap with practices or games.

From that last point, one of the go-to answers when asked by any coach of how to improve in a game is communication. This applies on and off the field. It is imperative that you establish a relationship with your professors early on so that it is easier to communicate for the very minimal times that athletes may interfere with academics. With that, communication with coaches is also part of your academic success and ensuring the prioritization of academics over athletics in special circumstances. Use your coach as a vehicle towards achieving academic as well as athletic success. In succession with the team as a resource, the use of older teammates in helping navigate the cohesion with your sport and classes is a key point of advice. They have experience with the structure of NESCAC athletics and the rigor of the Wesleyan education.

Lastly, success in any aspect of life is contingent upon proper preparation, which includes sufficient fuel and care of the body and mind. The life of a student-athlete is often go go go, which leaves little room for self reflection. It is ok to take a break and give yourself the downtime that you deserve. Ultimately, while you are labeled as a student-athlete on campus, these tips will help you to distinguish between or separate athletics and academics while also establishing a balance with both.

Checklist:

  • Time management
  • Organization (planner)
  • Communication (on and off the field)
  • Relationships with professors
  • Plan ahead
  • Use teammates as resources
  • Use coaches as resources
  • Separate/find balance with athletics and academics
  • Take care of body and mind (fuel)
  • Give yourself a break and down time

What to Pack for Your First Semester at Wesleyan!

By Cyann Byfield ’23

One of the greatest dilemmas for incoming college freshmen is deciding what to pack and what to leave at home. I am here to help you through this! Packing for your first semester of college is not an easy task, it takes time and preparation. What I would suggest is to create a list of everything you think you may need then divide it into categories. Here are some categories that helped me through the packing process my freshman year…

Category One: Clothing

It is important to remember that Wesleyan is in the North East, and up here we experience all four seasons but when it’s cold, it is cold! During the fall semester temperatures will range from approximately 80-90 degrees to below freezing by the end of the semester. As you arrive on campus it will still feel like summer but don’t forget to pack your winter coat and warm clothes to endure winter in the North East.

You’re probably wondering what type of clothes to pack as well. My best advice is to pack whatever clothes and shoes you usually wear and lots of comfortable clothes. Don’t forget to pack your pajamas, undergarments, and shower shoes. All dorm showers are shared so for hygiene I suggest bringing a pair of flip flops or slides designated for the shower.

Category Two: Dorm Supplies

It is likely that you will be spending a lot of time in your dorm room, so make sure you pack the essentials to make your room as comfortable as possible. All dorms are equipped with a kitchen that has stoves, microwaves, and refrigerators but if you would rather store and warm food in the comfort of your room feel free to purchase or rent a minifridge and microwave for your dorm room. All students are given a twin XL mattress so ensure that your sheets are made to fit this size bed. Also remember to bring pillows as they are not provided. I suggest getting a rug for the floor because sometimes it can get cold. I also recommend getting a desk lamp or reading lamp. It is important to remember to pack towels and all other toiletries that you will use daily.

Category Three: Academic Supplies

Lastly, but certainly not least, remember to pack supplies for classes! I suggest bringing electronics that you feel comfortable doing school work on whether it may be a laptop or tablet; many courses do have components that require electronics. It is very important to pack all of your chargers for respective electronics, but if you forget it’s no problem. You can purchase a charger for almost anything at the Cardinal Tech store on campus. If you’re like me and like to handwrite notes I suggest getting a spiral notebook for each class and pens in different colors to organize your notes! To manage your time I recommend getting a planner or a dry erase calendar board to keep track of your assignments and activities.

As long as you pack the essentials I recommended and take your time during the process you’ll be all set for your first semester at Wes!

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.

Welcome from Cardinal Tech!

The bookstore has all your dorm and school supplies stocked and ready for arrival day! Make your first day on campus easy by purchasing items like linens, command hooks, and appliances ahead of time and picking up your order at Cardinal Tech in Usdan. The Cardinal Tech Campus Store (a branch of the RJ Julia Bookstore) is a required stop during the initial orientation check in. Our linens come with a 4 year warranty through the manufacturer, so if your sheets get damaged or worn, you’ll receive a replacement for free from the company! Shop online here and choose Pick Up At Cardinal Tech for a stress-free dorm shopping experience.

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.