The ENGAGE blog (engage.wesleyan.edu) is the home of civic engagement activity at Wesleyan University. On the blog, you can subscribe to the weekly ENGAGE newsletter, which contains information about upcoming events, funding, internships and volunteer opportunities, and other content related to civic engagement and social entrepreneurship. You can also follow Engage on Facebook (Engage at the Allbritton Center) and on Twitter (@Wes_engage).
With over 1000 courses in 45 majors, 14 minors, 12 certificates, and a unique open curriculum choosing classes during pre-registration may seem like a stressful and daunting task. Many students come into Wesleyan without any idea of what they want to study – and that’s totally fine! For most students, major declaration does not happen until the second semester of sophomore year. However, Wesleyan has three majors that require declaration during the spring semester of freshman year. These programs are the College of Social Studies, the College of Letters, and the College of East Asian Studies. While we like to advise students to explore a wide range of classes in their first year of college and hone their interests, if you are thinking about one of these programs, it may affect the decisions that you make during pre-registration. This blog post will provide a description of each of these programs and some suggestions for those who are thinking about choosing one of these majors.
College of Social Studies. The College of Social Studies is a rigorous, multidisciplinary major focusing on History, Government, Political and Social Theory, and Economics. CSS is reading and writing intensive, encouraging intellectual independence with weekly essays, small group tutorials, and a vibrant intellectual environment.
College of Letters. The College of Letters is a interdisciplinary major for the study of European literature, history, and philosophy, from antiquity to the present. During these three years, students participate as a cohort in a series of colloquia in which they read and discuss works together (in English), learn to think critically about texts in relation to their contexts and influences—both European and non-European—and in relation to the disciplines that shape and are shaped by those texts. Majors also become proficient in a foreign language and study abroad in order to deepen their knowledge of another culture.
College of East Asian Studies. The College of East Asian Studies challenges students to understand China, Japan, and Korea through the rigors of language study and the analytical tools of various academic disciplines. This process demands both broad exposure to different subjects and a focused perspective on a particular feature of the East Asian landscape.
For those considering one of these three majors, here are some helpful tips as you select your classes and enter your first semester of college:
Deadlines. CSS, COL, and CEAS require major declaration in the spring of your freshman year. The deadline for CSS and COL is generally in March, and CEAS is in April. The application forms and the exact dates can be found on the department page of each major. If you are thinking about one of these majors, I would recommend talking to people who are in one of these majors or reaching out to any of the faculty members in the major as soon as possible.
Admission Requirements. All CSS majors must complete the economics prerequisite either by taking ECON101 and achieving a grade of CR or a letter grade of at least C- or by taking ECON110 and achieving a grade of CR or a letter grade of at least C-. Some students who have not completed the economics prerequisite are admitted each year on the condition that they must complete the prerequisite in the fall term of the sophomore year. Even if you are possibly thinking about majoring in CSS, I would consider enrolling in an economics course in the first or second semester of your freshmen year.
Language Requirements. COL and CEAS both have language requirements. COL majors must become proficient in a foreign language and study abroad in a country where the selected foreign language is spoken. CEAS majors are expected to take at least four semesters of East Asian language courses and reach a minimum of advanced-level (third-year) competency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Majors who are native speakers of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean are expected to study another East Asian language. Those who have already studied a foreign language relevant to one of these majors do not necessarily have to enroll in a foreign language in the first semester. However, for those who need to start at a beginning level, it is highly recommended that you enroll in a language course as early as possible.
General Education Expectations. Only CSS requires completion of Stage II general education requirements (three course credits in HA, SBS, and NSM, all from different departments or programs). However, CSS majors have until the end of junior year to complete Stage I general education requirements (two course credits in each area, all from different departments or programs). While COL and CEAS do not have general education requirements, it is highly recommended that ALL students complete Stage II general education requirements. A student who does not meet these expectations by the time of graduation will not be eligible for University honors, Phi Beta Kappa, honors in general scholarship, or for honors in certain departments and may not declare more than a combined total of two majors, certificates, and minors.
If you have any further questions about any of these three programs, we encourage you to reach out to a peer advisor or to a faculty member in the specific department.
As an incoming Wesleyan student, you should consider completing an online training session on responsible conduct of research at some point this summer. Completion of this course is required of every student who participates in any kind of research on campus. Students who think they may participate in research should complete the free online training session now so that you won’t need to worry about it once you’ve started classes. The course will likely take between 45 – 90 minutes to complete. Completion of this course satisfies the requirement for your four years at Wesleyan, and the course is free. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Sacks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the instructions to complete the course on Responsible Conduct of Research:
- Go to: https://www.citiprogram.org/
- Create your own account and select Wesleyan University as the member institution.
- Check the box for: Yes, I need/want to take the course on Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).
- Select the subject matter that is closest to the kind research you are most likely to participate in (biomedical, social and behavioral, or physical science).
The Learning and Living Seminar program is designed for first-year students who want to live with seminar classmates in the same residential area. Living in close proximity allows for intellectual discussions and collaborative learning to extend beyond the classroom, facilitating group assignments and projects, and promoting growth of community through daily interaction. Learning and Living seminars are a subset of the first-year seminar program. Three L&L seminars are being offered this fall:
- RELI 291 From Jerusalem to Ground Zero: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sioux, and Hindu Notions of Sacredness
- RELI391.0 Religion and the Social Construction of Race
- SISP125.01 TechnoPrisons: Corrections, Technology, and Society
Enthusiastic commitment is expected from students who enroll in L&L seminars since both housing and faculty advisor assignments will be based on the L&L seminar choice. If you wish to enroll in a L&L seminar, you must submit the Learning & Living Seminar Registration Form by 5:00pm on Thursday, June 30.
First-year seminars are writing intensive courses that introduce students to a variety of topics ranging from Greek myth to neuroscience. Some treat a specific thinker (e.g., Kafka); others provide a sweeping introduction into an interdisciplinary area of study that may be new to first-year students (e.g., animal studies). All of these seminars, however, emphasize the importance of writing at the university level. Students in first-year seminars become familiar with the methods used to collect, interpret, analyze, and present evidence as part of a scholarly argument. Faculty teaching these classes also highlight the type of writing associated with their respective disciplines, and help students develop, compose, organize, and revise their writing. All first-year seminars have assignments totaling at least 20 pages, and feature oral or written feedback on student writing; many also employ peer-mentoring and writing tutors. First-year seminars are limited to 15 students. Click here for a complete list.
Over the next few weeks and months before you arrive, you’re going to be receiving a lot of emails, and all the information can become confusing. If you have questions, don’t panic. Instead, email the Academic Peer Advisors!
Wesleyan has eight Academic Peer Advisors who work one-on-one with students throughout the year to help with course registration, time management, organization, study skills, note taking, communicating with professors, and more. APAs also lead workshops for dorms and student groups.
The Academic Peer Advisors will be available to meet with you when you arrive on campus to help you finalize your schedules and introduce you to academic life at Wes. In the meantime, check out their bios, and feel free to email them at email@example.com if you have any questions.
All members of the Wesleyan community are invited to attend Summer Sendoff gatherings. These casual socials are hosted by alumni and parents and are the perfect opportunity to welcome our newest students and their families to Wesleyan. Sendoffs are currently scheduled for:
- Los Angeles, CA, July 30
- Chicago, IL, August 1
- West Hartford, CT, August 4
- Bay Area, CA, August 6
- Seattle, WA, August 7
- Atlanta, GA, August 11
- Mamaroneck, NY, TBD
Added locations, event details, and registration can be found on the Summer Sendoff website.
All new students who are interested in taking math or language courses should take the appropriate placement exams by June 30. To access the exams, login to your student portfolio and click on “Placement Exams” in the “Orientation News & Checklist” bucket. You will then be redirected to Moodle, where you can then choose the exams you wish to take.
Rubye Peyser, an Academic Peer Advisor, offers some helpful advice on the placement exam process:
Dean Phillips spends much of his time advising students – discussing academic, social, and personal challenges and achieving personal goals. He works with individual students, professors and even parents, to support students in their pursuit of a positive learning experience.
Dean Phillips provides guidance and support students to the 750 students in the Class of 2020. He’s a source of information on academic standing; major choices; graduation requirements; university policies and procedures; and services, opportunities and resources available at the university and surrounding Middletown community.
“What I like about my job is that I get to work with the whole student rather than just a particular aspect of a student’s life,” Phillips says. “That’s my mission as a class dean. I really want to get to know each student on an academic and personal level.”
Dean Phillips was born in New Haven, Connecticut, but has a special bond with the international community. Because his father worked for the State Department as a Foreign Service Office, Dean Phillips did not grow up in the United States and considers himself an international student, having lived and attended schools in Peru, Mexico, the Philippines, New Zealand, and India before returning to the United States to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art (photography and printmaking) and a master’s degree in Comparative Social History.
Dean Phillips earned his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University, where he wrote a dissertation entitled “Art for Industry’s Sake: Halftone Technology, Mass Photography, and the Social Transformation of American Print Culture 1880-1920.” Prior to arriving at Wesleyan in the summer of 2000, he was an assistant professor at Bennington College, where he taught American history. With wide-ranging academic interests in social history, cultural studies, studio art, and the history of technology, Dean Phillips is well-suited to advise students across the breadth and depth of Wesleyan’s liberal arts curriculum.
When he’s not in the office, Dean Phillips enjoys cooking, working on home improvement projects, photography, duplicate bridge, playing guitar, and going for walks at the Portland reservoir.
Academic Peer Advisors provide students with information about the curriculum and course registration and also serve as a source for academic resource referrals. During New Student Orientation, Peer Advisors will be available in residence halls and at different sites throughout campus to help new students prepare for individual meetings with faculty advisors. Peer Advisors maintain a regular presence in the residence halls during the academic year and can be contacted via email to schedule individual advising appointments.
My name is Jenne Johnson 2018 and my goal as a peer advisor is to enlighten students in important skills such as metacognitive learning strategies, time management, public speaking and studying and exam preparation strategies. In developing these skills, I hope to solidify the success of Wesleyan students in their years to come. I am a Psychology major and potential neuroscience double-major on the pre-med track and a part of Wes-Mass, and the Mc.Nair Scholars Program. In my free time I dance on two dance teams on campus; KALALU and X-tacy and enjoy both drawing and singing. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you and learning about your unique journeys at Wes! You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Genna Mastellone 2017 and I am a senior Government major concentrating in American politics. I am also getting a certificate in environmental studies. I’m involved with fossil fuel divestment, I am a research assistant in the Sociology Department, and I’ve worked on a Second Stage production. I also studied abroad the fall of my junior year studying climate change in Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia. I’m very excited to meet you all. Please get in touch with me if you have any questions about your academic plans at Wesleyan at email@example.com. See you in the fall!
My name is Steven Chen 2018 and I’m from Rancho Bernardo, CA (slightly north of San Diego). I’m currently triple majoring in History, Government, and American Studies, but my major(s?) change on a daily basis. I’m a member of the Men’s Tennis Team, so if you have any questions about being a student athlete or athletics in general, feel free to direct them my way! When I’m not in bed watching Netflix, you can catch me cooking for my friends or exploring the wilderness of the Northeast (there’s not a lot of green in California). I’ve never met a dessert that I didn’t like, I love puppies, and I’m the biggest fan of figure skating you will ever meet. I’m excited and honored to be a Peer Advisor, and I encourage you to reach out to any of the peer advisors with any questions you may have about Wesleyan, or if you just want to chat! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Michael Ortiz 2017 and I’m from Central New Jersey (right outside Princeton to be exact.) I’m a senior and am a Math, American Studies, and English triple major, so as you can see it’s very easy at Wesleyan to major in completely different things! As well as being a peer advisor this year, I do a lot of different things on campus; I work with the Sustainability office and have helped run Waste Not! For the past two years. I also work as a Teaching Assistant in the math department (maybe I’ll see some of you in one of my classes!) I’m a member of the Wesleyan Green Fund, which helps fund sustainability-related projects on campus, and am a member of Wesleyan’s Latinx organization, Ajua Campos. This summer, I’ll be working in the city while also beginning work on my thesis! If anyone has any questions, please feel free to reach out at email@example.com; I’m always down to answer a question or two. Excited to see y’all in the fall and welcome to Wesleyan!
My name is Rubye Peyser 2018 and I am a junior from Boston, MA. I applied early decision to Wes and have honestly never made a better choice. I am a Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MB&B) and Spanish double major. As my majors show, I have pretty diverse/random interests. Thankfully, Wes lets me explore a ton of different options. Aside from taking classes (both in and VERY FAR out of my majors), I am involved in a number of activities. I am an Academic Peer Advisor, intern in the office of Student Academic resource, intro biology TA, student researcher in a biology lab, and a sometimes-actress. This coming year I hope to study abroad in Spain. If you have any questions, please reach out to me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Rachel Earnhardt 2017 and I am a senior pursuing an Environmental Studies and History linked major. I was born and raised in Raleigh, NC and would be jazzed to talk with anyone anxious about adjusting to New England winters. Here at Wesleyan, I have strengthened my passion for environmental justice, history and writing as well as my enthusiasm for liberal arts education. On campus, when not in the library, I can be found working at the Writing Workshop; volunteering with WesAGE, the senior center alliance program (a wonderful excuse to play Scrabble with wiser souls); or more likely, power napping. In Spring 2016, I studied away (50 minutes down the road…) at the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program and returned with a renewed passion for protecting the world’s oceans. This fall, I am looking forward to being a student fellow with the Center for Humanities. This year, I am writing a thesis and will seize any opportunity to prattle on about my topic! After Wesleyan, I intend to spend a little more time in the warm womb of academia pursuing a graduate degree, hopefully focusing on environmental justice issues in the United States, before striking out to work in education. Also, I am a major fan of puns, Dansko clogs (functional & fashionable!), Rachel Carson and reading. If you have any questions about academics at Wesleyan or finding the perfect length of power nap, or just want to talk about shared interests or a mutual love of puns, please do send me some electronic mail: email@example.com. Looking forward to meeting you!
My name is Selena Gonzalez 2017 and I am a Latina born and raised in New York City! I decided to attend Wesleyan University because of the passion I witnessed from the students who go here. I was and still am in awe of the many ways students on campus get involved in what they feel excited about, whether its social justice or participation in various distinguished dance troupes. Students at Wesleyan are part of an environment that promotes creativity and individuality. When I came to Wesleyan, I had no idea how exactly I would fit into the picture. I had no idea what I wanted to major in, what my career path was going to be or even what all my interests were. Due to the fact that I wanted to experience a wholesome liberal arts education at Wesleyan, I spent my freshman year taking a variety of science and math courses alongside English and AFAM classes such as Intro to Latina/o Literature and Intro to Modern African American History. Soon enough, I found myself on the pre-med academic track and I am currently pursuing a double major in Psychology and Neuroscience & Behavior. On campus, I also conduct research in the underlying mechanisms of temporal lobe epilepsy in Professor Naegele’s lab as a scholar of the Ronald E. McNair program, which provides underrepresented students with research opportunities, academic support and guidance for graduate studies. I am also a Senior Interviewer at the Office of Admission, a senior board member of the Student Judicial Board and a student advocate on the Student Health Advisory Committee. I can’t wait to meet you all and please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m Aidan Winn 2018, a rising junior and an Academic Peer Advisor. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with many of you this coming year, and would love to help with anything from scheduling to time management, or simply just to chat. I can help answer almost any question you might have! I’m from Northampton, Massachusetts, only about an hour away from Wesleyan. I have an older brother who just graduated from Wes, and a younger sister in high school (Wes is her top choice!). I have chosen to major in Science and Society, a program unique to Wesleyan, and one I have fallen in love with over the last two years. I am student athlete and member of the Wesleyan Swimming and Diving team, an active participant in the theater community here at Wes, and an avid musician. Needless to say, I am pretty busy at Wesleyan, but I have found tons of ways to have fun and connect with other students, and cannot wait to get back to Wes in the fall! If you have any questions, please reach out to me any time at email@example.com.
There’s more to Middletown than the Wesleyan campus. It will be definitely worth taking time to explore your new hometown during your first few months at college. This list contains just a few of the off-campus places that can brighten your time at Wesleyan.
View Ten Things to Love About Middletown in a larger map
- Food! Middletown boosts an impressive array of restaurants. Favorites include Puerto Vallarta for generous portions of Mexican food, Forbidden City Bistro for upscale Chinese fusion and tasty desserts, and, of course, Udupi Bhavan which serves delicious and inexpensive vegetarian Indian food in an unassuming setting. It’s totally worth the short car trip. And no night spent dancing until the wee hours would be complete without a trip to O’Rourke’s Diner for the cheesy omelettes and a chat with Brian O’Rourke.
- Farms. The trip to Lyman Orchards by bike is pleasant, but also check out High Hill Orchard at 170 Fleming Road in Meriden, a lovely small organic alternative with heritage apple varieties and hay rides. Connecticut is an agriculturally rich state and you can find farms and farm tours nearby using LocalHarvest. Also, through October there is a farmers market on the South Green in town on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm.
- The Roller Skating Rink. This place is such a blast and probably hasn’t changed much since it was built with vinyl flooring and a disco ball. You can even bring your own cds to play over the sound system.
- Coffee! Middletown has not one, but four independently owned coffee shops. Go to Klekolo for the sweet chai, Brew Bakers for the tasty black bean sandwiches, Cafe Ology, across the street from the High Rise parking lot, for pineapple pizza, and Javapalooza for the pastries and Italian soda.
- Vinnie’s Jump and Jive. Featuring a variety of dance classes, including country line and breakdancing, and monthly swing dancing nights, this place is perfect for mingling with Middletown residents and boogieing to grooves not often heard on campus sound speakers.
- Wadsworth Falls. This state park has a mossy mini-waterfall and hiking/biking trails, making it a nice mini-campus getaway.
- Metro Movies. When you want to see a new film before it gets to the Film Center, this theater is the place. You can pick up discount vouchers from the box office at Usdan. The large popcorn boxes come with free refills, which is perfect for when you bring a large group to a midnight showing.
- Veterans Memorial Park. It’s fun to walk around barefoot in the mud and moss near the Coginchaug River. You can bike to this 41-acre park in under 15 minutes.
- Green Street Arts Center. Started as a collaboration between Wesleyan, the city of Middletown, and the North End Action Team, Green Street offers all sorts of arts classes. Wesleyan students volunteer at the After School Program, but there are also neat performances including a Salon Series of mini-lectures and arts events on Sundays.
- The Russell Library. Located five minutes away from Fisk, this is the local public library. It has a great dvd/vhs collection and is a fine place to study when you want quiet and no distractions. Getting a library card only takes a few minutes.
College life can be exciting, but it will differ significantly from your past experience. New environments, new friends, new classes, new ideas, new experiences are yours for the taking. And there is familiarity with being a student since that’s what you’ve been doing for most of your life. At the same time, you may need to adapt your study habits to fit into a less structured and more demanding academic environment. And you may be living on your own for the first time, responsible for everything from getting up on time for class to doing your own laundry to budgeting your money. A few suggestions for managing the transition:
- Talk with friends and family members who have recently attended college about their experiences transitioning to campus life — the challenges, the joys, the things they wish they knew starting out. You may be able to glean some words of wisdom!
- Make a plan with your parents/guardians for how frequently you will talk and email. Strive for regular, but not daily, contact. It will help you concentrate on adjusting to Wesleyan while still reducing the likelihood of feeling homesick.
- Once on campus, seek out opportunities to get involved in one or two activities outside the classroom. Focus on quality, not quantity. You have plenty of time over the next four years to try out everything!
- Being a college student does not have to equal being unhealthy. Strive for balanced eating habits, a regular sleep pattern and a manageable workload.
- Keep up your exercise routine at Wesleyan’s great athletic facilities. Physical activity greatly helps with reducing stress levels and with mental acuity.
- Ask for help if you need it academically or personally. We want to help you succeed!
Student Academic Resources coordinates programs for intellectual enrichment and academic support. The goals are to foster a community culture that recognizes the relationship between intellectual growth and personal development; to ensure that students know about and are encouraged to seek out appropriate services; and to share information among programs and constituents to ensure the provision of high quality and accessible services that facilitate academic achievement for all students.
As you plan for your arrival in the Fall, please review the Faculty and Student Advising Handbook. The Handbook is designed to help you achieve your educational goals by providing advice on how to get the most out of your relationship with your faculty advisor as you build your program of study over the course of your Wesleyan career. The Handbook also provides information about academic departments and programs, graduation requirements, study abroad, the major declaration process, academic support services for students, and the procedures of the Honor Board and the Student Judicial Board.
Any day now the Office of New Student Orientation will be contacting you with important information to prepare for your arrival to Wesleyan on August 31, including information about course registration, academic planning, placement testing, registering with Disabilities Services, housing, and more. Many of these items require a response from you, so be sure to review this information thoroughly and be mindful of deadlines.
This year’s New Student Orientation program will provide you with multiple opportunities to interact with faculty, staff and other students and learn about Wesleyan and its many resources. If you have any questions, you should contact the student interns in the Office of New Student Orientation at firstname.lastname@example.org.