Connecting with Wesleyan: The Academic Experience
The Academic Advising System
Within the context of liberal education at Wesleyan, advising is a teaching and learning experience, and faculty play a central role in the advising system. Faculty advisors teach students how to explore the curriculum and develop coherent academic plans that expand their intellectual, academic, and artistic perspectives. They also help students select courses that stress capabilities that have been identified as essential for a life of learning. These “key capabilities” are writing, speaking, quantitative reasoning, ethical reasoning, and critical and creative thinking.
Faculty efforts are supported and enhanced by many other resources available at Wesleyan, including class deans, orientation staff, career resources, and staff members in various administrative offices. The advising process is designed to provide opportunities for students to reflect on how to utilize the curriculum and other University resources to achieve their educational and personal goals. Other important elements of the advising system include student use of WESMaps, the Electronic Portfolio, and online registration activities.
In the first two years, the advising system provides direction to help you navigate the curriculum to achieve balance, rigor, and breadth of knowledge and to explore potential majors. In the junior and senior years, you are assigned an advisor in your major field of study, and your academic programs include more specialized work in your particular major.
First-Year and Sophomore Advising
As you pursue your interests, you are expected to explore different academic disciplines, develop capabilities essential for a liberal education, and become knowledgeable about cultures other than your own. Your faculty advisor guides your exploration and may be the instructor of one of your first-year courses or may be assigned based on an academic interest that you express. You and your advisor will work together to plan a schedule of courses that introduce you to the curriculum, provide a mix of class sizes and instructional approaches, and expose you to the skills required for a Wesleyan education. Faculty advisors help students identify interests and strengths, assist them in making curricular decisions that will achieve their goals, and prepare them to make informed choices about a major by the end of the sophomore year.
Every student is required to choose a field of concentration. You will declare your major area of concentration by the end of the spring semester of your sophomore year and will be assigned a major advisor who will supervise your academic progress. Applications for admission into the College of Letters and the College of Social Sciences are submitted at the end of your first year.
In consultation with your major advisor, you will build a program of study that pursues a set of questions in a particular discipline or interdisciplinary setting in greater depth. As part of this program, you may undertake a senior project, senior essay, or senior thesis that allows you to pursue a particular topic in considerable depth under the expert guidance of a faculty member in your department or program.
Developing an Academic Plan
The Wesleyan faculty is committed to working with students to develop coherent academic plans. With advice from faculty, you are expected to find and articulate the connections among your interests, courses, and other educational activities. By the end of your undergraduate career, as a Wesleyan student, you will have a strong background in the liberal arts and skills to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Through your conversations with your faculty advisors, you will be challenged to pursue your interests by examining various disciplinary approaches and to acquire the capabilities that the faculty believe are essential for a life of learning and effective citizenship.
To develop an academic plan, learn to utilize the resources of the University, particularly WESMaps, to know the varied collection of courses that span a wide range of topics, cultivate different skills, and expose you to different teaching styles; and the Electronic Portfolio to record your interests, goals for each semester, and course preferences. Faculty advisors can access this information to prepare for your advising sessions and help you develop an academic plan.
New Advisors or Changing Advisors
Some students will have more than one faculty advisor. Students whose interests, goals, and needs change often seek new advisors who are better suited to assist them. When faculty advisors are unavailable due to a sabbatical, leave, or special assignment, their advisees are assigned to new advisors, or students may select new advisors based on their academic plans. In all cases, every effort is made to ensure that students receive appropriate and consistent guidance.