I’m going to give a brief introduction on the seminal period of your first Pre-Reg and tips on course selection that will hopefully clarify some questions that come to mind. Also, you can always feel free to email me, Quentin (email@example.com) or the Academic Peer Advisors email where one of us will answer your questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What you are encouraged to do, and will find very helpful, is to read through the Advising Guidelines here (don’t skip this!). A big theme emphasized is balance. It’s going to be your first semester at Wesleyan, meaning you will have many more semesters to take classes you won’t be able to take right now, so don’t feel pressured to take all major requirements or all one-specific type of class. You have several opportunities to solidify your class schedule, extending two weeks after the first day of classes, so don’t stress!
There are 3 stages of choosing classes that lead to being enrolled in four full credit courses (or maybe 4.25 or 4.50 if you take a lab class, which are half or quarter credit).
- Pre-Registration Planning. This phase begins in July. Freshmen will be ranking seven first-year seminars and seven introductory courses. If you are a transfer, you’ll be ranking seven introductory and/or upper-level courses from WesMaps. First year seminars aren’t mandatory, but highly encouraged! The extensive meetings with professors, emphasis on developing your writing skills, and small classroom setting that first-year seminars provide really helped prepare me for taking a wide range of classes at Wes. Wesvising is a great tool for looking at the different departments at Wesleyan and getting an idea of where you may want to look for classes on Wesmaps.
- Pre-Registration Adjustment. In late August, you’ll see a list of your scheduled courses in your WesPortal. After seeing your schedule, you’ll meet with your faculty advisor during orientation to talk about your current courses and what you want your academic experience at Wesleyan to look like. You will then have an opportunity to change, drop, or add courses before classes start during a period called Pre-Registration Adjustment.
- Drop/Add. Starting on the first of classes for two weeks is the Drop/Add period. You can go to the classes of the courses you are enrolled in, and those for which you aren’t, and continue to modify your schedule. It’s a great opportunity to see the syllabi for classes or drop in for a session or two to decide if they are right for you.
Factors to Consider for Course Selection
General Education Expectations. Wesleyan doesn’t have any core requirements, true. But the General Education Expectations, commonly called Gen Eds, are an important cluster of classes to pay attention to for fulfilling certain majors and for getting the most out of the breadth of classes offered at Wes. More than that, it is also a fulfillment that aligns with Wesleyan’s ethos of encouraging innovative academic explorations and fostering interdisciplinary understanding! It is good to start thinking about Gen Eds in your freshman year. If you are having trouble thinking about the mix of classes to take, Gen Eds can help with structuring your course selection.
Here are the basics:
- The Gen Eds are divided into three divisions: Humanities & Arts (HA), Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS), and Natural Sciences & Mathematics (NSM).
- While the courses in many departments (such as Biology and Astronomy) all belong to a single division, this is not always the case. For example, the Philosophy department holds the distinction of offering courses that span across all three divisions! Therefore, it is important to keep an eye out on the Gen Ed division the course belongs to on WesMaps rather than just the department itself.
- There are 2 stages that can be fulfilled in Gen Ed:
- Stage 1: Two course credits from each of the 3 divisions, all in different departments, by the end of the 4th semester.
- Stage 2: An additional third course in any department in each division by your graduation
- Some majors require your Gen Eds fulfilled for the completion of the major or honors. For more information on the specific requirements for each major, please check out this page.
Going Abroad? It may seem really far off, and especially given how uncertain the world has become in the age of COVID-19, but if you are thinking of studying abroad after the completion of your first academic year, it would be good to consider taking language courses in your freshman year as most of the non-English speaking programs require one or two years of language.
So if you want to go abroad Junior year, you should consider taking the language for the country you want to study in freshman year. You can explore the study abroad programs here and also check their respective language requirements here.
Think About Course Balance. Here’s the big thing to consider while you select your courses: Balance! Listed below are some factors you’ll want to think about when choosing classes:
- Class size and lecture vs. discussion. Some classes are larger lectures while others are smaller discussions. It’s great to have a mix of lectures and discussions that way you can engage in your classes by both listening and taking notes and participating, and have a balance between the two.You can gauge the number of people in a class by looking at the Total Enrollment Limit box on WesMaps.
- NSM, HA, or SBS. Don’t just go for the same division in your cornucopia of courses – think about having a mix and spicing it up! If you’re dead set about declaring a NSM major, let’s say, you may want to only take NSM classes. However, this can get overwhelming, and you may find yourself having the same type of class assessments and weekly problem set due dates, which can be tedious overall. This idea holds true for all 3 divisions.While it’s always good to have identified your academic area of focus or interest early on, pigeonholing all your courses into one division. To say nothing of fulfilling your General Education Expectations (covered in the section above!), your freshman year is the best time for daring academic explorations, and the first year seminars are the masts that help you set sail! Try to take one class out of your comfort zone, or that is different in subject area than what you are most comfortable with.
- Assessments. On WesMaps, look at the types of assessments used for each class so that you can try to choose classes that will give you the chance to demonstrate your understanding in different ways. For example, some classes will heavily incorporate papers and presentations as a part of their assessment, while others might lean more towards closed-book exams.
- Grading Mode. On WesMaps, you can also take a look at the grading mode of the courses and take them into account while charting your classes. Course credits at Wesleyan are recorded in one of two grading modes: Graded (A-F) or Credit/Unsatisfactory (CR/U). Some courses offer students a choice of grading mode.
- Days of the week. Aside from the content of the courses, you should also consider the pragmatic aspect of attending them. While seemingly insignificant at first blush, you would find that how your courses are spread out over the week could make the difference between stifling and comfortable as the semester progresses.If you take all four of your full credit classes on Tuesday and Thursday, you’ll probably find yourself very tired these days and possibly wanting some more structure on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. While it may be tempting to have a “reverse schedule” where your “workdays” and “weekends” are flipped, try to space out your classes over the span of the week for some breathing space.Click on the “Planning Calendar” link in the list on the bottom right of your WesMaps planning pages to visualize what your schedule would look like!
- Time of the Day. Like the factor above, this one may seem trivial compared to the other factors listed above, but I cannot stress how important it is to take the time of the day of your prospective courses into account! If you are taking classes on campus, try spacing out your classes across the day so that you would have enough time to proceed or prepare for your next class. Trust me, it is no fun immediately running from one building to another after class ends so that you can make it in time for your next class that starts in 10 minutes!If you are generally averse to waking up early, it may be important for you to consider the time of your classes as well. While having to wake up for two 8:20 am classes a week may sound doable on paper, you might find it physically and mentally taxing – to the point of taking a toll on your general well-being – if it does not align well with your sleep schedule!
- Choosing in the Time of COVID-19: Online or In-Person? With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world into territories unknown, taking classes in-person is no longer a certainty or something that is a given. As you make your decision on whether to return to campus in the fall, you should pay close attention to how the classes would be conducted by looking at the top bar of the course description on WesMaps. Learn more about the different instruction modes here.
I know there is a lot of info above, but if you have any questions feel free to email me or the other peer advisors (email@example.com). See you at virtual orientation; we can’t wait to meet you!