This web page is meant to provide first-generation students at Wesleyan with information so as to support their success. This information includes often-used college terms and Wesleyan acronyms; information about campus resources; tips for parents; and the stories of first-generation students, alumni, faculty and staff. For more information, please contact Demetrius Colvin.

  • Who is First Generation?

    While there is no universal definition that will capture all of the complexities of being a first-generation student, students are generally understood to be first-generation if their parents or legal guardians have not completed a four-year college degree. However, students whose circumstances fall outside of this description should know that they still have access to the support and resources described on this site.

  • What are some common experiences that first-generation students at Wesleyan have described?

    Some common experiences that first-generation students have experienced are:

    Excitement and Pride:  You've faced innumerable challenges and succeeded: that’s why you’re at Wesleyan!

    Anxiety: The transition to college is nerve-wracking for everyone, but for first-generation students there can be added concerns around what to expect. Feeling nervous or apprehensive is normal, but remember to reach out to others for support if you need it.

    Responsibility: Like other students on campus, you may be helping to pay for your education, working a job during the semester, filling out FAFSA forms or balancing family and educational needs. 

    Belonging: Many first-generation students feel that they don’t truly belong at college. You do belong at college and we are glad that you have chosen Wesleyan!

    Balancing: It can be challenging for students to balance their commitments on campus (courses, jobs, extracurricular involvement) with managing family needs at home, so self-care is essential.

    Major Paths: Many first-generation students feel the need to move toward more pragmatic majors, but they often find a way to balance the practical with their passions. 

    Navigation: It is important for first-generation students to learn the expectations of university life in order to get the most out of college. This is why the First Things First pre-orientation was created for incoming students. Most importantly, it is essential that you ask questions!

    Solitude: Many first-generation students experience the feeling of being unique and alone in their struggles and perspectives. It is important to remember that you are not alone! Be sure to listen to the stories of other students and how they were able to find their sense of connection and belonging.

  • Wesleyan Terms and Acronyms

    AFAM: The African American Studies (AFAM) Program at Wesleyan offers a dynamic interdisciplinary approach to the study of people of African descent in the Black Atlantic world, especially in the United States and in the Caribbean.

    Argus: The student newspaper on campus which can be found online at

    Building codes:  Acronyms for campus locations explained

    CAPS: Counseling and Psychological Services provides comprehensive short-term mental health. Their goal is to assist students as they navigate through life's challenges within the context of a highly rigorous and demanding academic environment. 

    CEAS: College of East Asian Studies was established in July 2014 through the merger of three academic units: the Asian Languages and Literatures Department, the East Asian Studies Program, and the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies.

    CCP/JCCP: The Jewett Center for Community Partnerships brings together the different offices and programs that work on university-community initiatives. 

    CFA: The Center for Fine Arts serves the technical and production needs of the departments of dance, music, theater and art and art history, and serves as a cultural center for the campus.

    CGS: The Center for Global Studies is committed to helping all members of the Wesleyan community achieve the knowledge, language skills, and sensitivity each person will need in order to exercise effective and responsible citizenship in an increasingly inter-dependent world.

    CHUM: The Center for the Humanities provides high level academic programming to energize the campus and promotes innovative research and scholarship through their faculty and visiting fellows program.

    CIS: The College of Integrative Science is dedicated to equipping Wesleyan students with creative, quantitative and integrative skills.

    COE:  The College of the Environment seeks to develop informed citizens who can discuss environmental issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, understand their connections to social or political issues, and derive well-formulated independent conclusions 

    COL: The College of Letters is a three-year, interdisciplinary major for the study of European literature, history, and philosophy, from antiquity to the present.

    Credit Analysis: The credit analysis is a review of the academic record that monitors progress towards meeting graduation requirements. You should start looking at it closely in your junior year, if not earlier.

    CSPL: The Center for the Study of Public Life brings together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners through support of cutting-edge scholarship, high-impact teaching practices, rigorous debate, and broad dissemination of work pertaining to public life.

    CSS: The College of Social Studies is a rigorous, multidisciplinary major focusing on History, Government, Political and Social Theory, and Economics.

    DFC: Daniel Family Commons is primarily a faculty /staff dining space. Students are encouraged to join their faculty and staff mentors to engage in intellectual discourse over lunch.

    DAC: Davison Art Center holds Wesleyan's collection of more than 24,000 works of art on paper, chiefly prints and photographs.

    Davison: The Davison Health Center is the primary care facility on campus for illness and injury.

    Dean’s List: Wesleyan acknowledges high academic achievement at the end of each semester. Students who earn a semester GPA of 93.35 or better on three or more credits taken at Wesleyan will be named to the Dean's List

    Drop-add: Drop/add begins on the first day of classes each semester and is ten class days in length. Students submit their drop/add requests online.

    Espwesso: Wesleyan’s student-run café, Espwesso is located at 222 Church St.

    FTF/First Things First: The pre-orientation for first-generation students. 

    FGSS: A major program focusing on Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

    Foss Hill: Foss Hill is one of the main spots on campus for hanging out, reading, sledding, etc.

    FYM: First Year Matters is a program that provides new students with a common experience and introduction to intellectual life at Wesleyan.

    FYS: First Year Seminars are small courses intended for first-year students on a wide array of topics that feature a focus on writing. 

    Gen Eds: Students take courses across the curriculum to fulfill the General Education Expectations. Gen Eds are required for entrance to certain majors, Phi Beta Kappa, university honors, etc. 

    Grading Mode: A student's academic performance in individual courses taken at Wesleyan will be evaluated either by letter grades (A-F) or by the designations credit (CR) or unsatisfactory (U). The final choice of grading mode must be made within the 14 days after drop/add period ends.

    Guidebook: A smartphone app used by the New Student Orientation Office to provide students with an up-to-date orientation schedule.

    Hir/Ze/They: Alternative gender pronouns, hir/ze are often used by the Argus. The pronoun “they” , as well as singular and plural pronouns, are used by students on campus.

    Incompletes: Students can request incompletes at the end of the academic term. If approved, the student will have until the beginning of the following term to submit the work or take the test (unless otherwise an earlier deadline is set by the instructor). 

    ISO: International Student Pre-Orientation is held prior to new student orientation to assist students coming from across the the globe with the transition to college and American culture.

    ITCOO: In the Company of Others is a peer theater piece performed during New Student Orientation to spark conversation regarding what it means to live in a diverse community.

    ITS: Information Technology Services provides technical services and support to students, staff and faculty.

    Jobs/Student Employment: The Student Employment Office is committed to giving students the opportunity to satisfy the work-study component of their financial aid package and assist students that are not eligible for work-study to gain employment.

    La Casa: La Casa de Albizu Campos is a program house that aims to serve as a resource on issues pertaining to the Latino culture by hosting social, educational, traditional, and political events on campus.

    LAST: Latin American Studies is an interdisciplinary program that is designed to provide an integrated view of Mesoamerica, South America, and the Caribbean.

    Leave of Absence: Many students take a leave of absence—either academic or non-academic—at some point during the undergraduate career.  Some take a leave to work or travel or to be at home with family. Others enroll at another college or university to experience a different campus environment or to take courses not offered at Wesleyan. Some students need to take a medical leave because a medical and/or psychological issue temporarily prevents them from successful and productive participation in the University.

    LRC: The Language Resource Center provides support for students, faculty and members of the Wesleyan community involved in the study of languages and related areas. Course related audio and video materials are available. 

    MB&B: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry focuses on the molecular basis of biological processes, i.e., on mechanisms by which cells process, integrate and act on information to constitute living organisms.  

    Moodle: Wesleyan faculty use Moodle to manage a wide variety of digital communications with their students offering documents for download, hosting discussion forums, managing digital assignments, and more. 

    Neon: A local deli across from the Freeman Athletic Center.

    The Nics: Nicolson 5, 6, and 7 are home to both first-year and upper-class students.

    ORSL: The Chaplains from Wesleyan’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life have been appointed by the University to ensure and promote the spiritual and religious well-being of the campus community by providing leadership, counseling, and programming that promotes holistic student development and by nurturing many diverse and vibrant religious communities at Wesleyan. 

    OSA: Wesleyan considers study abroad contributes an essential part of the liberal arts education for students majoring in any subject. A meaningful cross-cultural experience sharpens our understanding of ourselves in relation to the world in which we live and is, for most, the best path toward true intercultural expertise and multilingualism.

    Oversubscription: The oversubscription rule is designed to prevent a student from building a program of study that is too narrow. Any credit above the academic subject or category limit will not count toward the 32.00 credits required for graduation, although the credits will be recorded on the transcript and grades will be factored into GPA calculations. 

    PBK/Phi Beta Kappa: The oldest national scholastic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa at Wesleyan is limited to 12 percent of the graduating class each year. Election to the society is based on grades and fulfillment of the eligibility requirements and nomination by the major department.

    P-Safe: Public Safety interacts with students in academic buildings, residence halls and campus neighborhoods every day. It is their goal to maintain a close partnership with the campus community as well as those responders that assist us in keeping everyone safe.

    Peer Advisors: Peer advisors act as an informed resource for all students regarding matters related to registration and study skills. They also prepare and facilitate individual sessions and workshops focusing on metacognitive learning strategies, time management, public speaking, studying and exam preparation strategies.

    Peer tutors: Peer Tutors provide supplementary course-content instruction for students who request them. Tutors are employed by the University and paid by the Deans’ Office. Tutees are self-identified, or are referred to the program by professors, departments, interdisciplinary programs, the tutoring program coordinator, or their class dean. 

    Portfolio: Through Portfolio (Wesleyan’s portal system), students can access their academic history, course registration, drop/add, final grades, general room selection and many more applications. 

    PosseVets: Ten Posse veteran scholars come to Wesleyan each year. The program began with the Class of 2018 in partnership with the Posse foundation.

    QAC: Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC) coordinates support for quantitative analysis across the curriculum, and provides an institutional framework for collaboration across departments and disciplines in the area of data analysis. 

    RAs: Resident Advisors are responsible for the entire residence hall and play an integral role in establishing a community environment conducive to maximum academic, personal, and social development, and maintaining healthy and safe living conditions. 

    SALD: The Office of Student Activities and Leadership The Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development provides advice and guidance and acts as a resource for students and student organizations. The office enhances out-of-classroom experiences that promote personal development and leadership.

    SBC: The Student Budget Committee of the WSA allocates the student activities fee to student groups and their activities/events. 

    Sci-Li: The Science Library, located in the center of the Science Complex on Church Street, is the divisional library for the natural and physical sciences.  

    SISP: The Science in Society Program is a dynamic interdisciplinary major that examines the sciences, medicine and technology as integral to society and culture.

    SJB: The University utilizes a peer-based judicial system—the Student Judicial Board—to address alleged violations of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct.  

    Summies/Summerfields: Summerfields is a dining space located in Butterfield C.

    Syllabus: A description of a course and its readings, deadlines, and assignments throughout the semester.

    The Butts: The nickname for Butterfields which houses both first year students and upper-class students in single, double, and triple-occupancy rooms.

    The Marketplace: The dining facility on the second floor of Usdan.

    The Ride: Catch the RIDE at locations throughout campus and make the trek across campus both quick and safe. The RIDE runs every night during the academic year from 7:00 pm until 4:00 am, and there is a free local grocery shuttle service every Sunday.

    University Major: The University Major affords first and second-semester sophomores the opportunity to design a rigorous academic program that responds to their individual interests and aptitudes, that provides the excitement and the challenge of using the methodologies of two or more disciplines, and offers the chance to work independently on an entire program, developing the necessary background and integrating the courses chosen in order to achieve the objectives that are set.

    Usdan: The  Usdan University Center is a focal point of activity and central programming space for the campus community.

    WesBox: A mail box (Wes Box) is assigned to each incoming student.

    WesCard: Your WesCard is your Wesleyan ID and is used for meals, access to buildings, etc.

    Wesleying: Wesleying is a 100% student-run and student-generated blog about all things Wesleyan—what goes on at Wes, what Wes students are doing, what Wes students care about.

    WesMaps: WesMaps is a full listing of courses for a given academic year, searchable by time, major requirements, Gen Eds, etc.

    WestCo: WestCo, or West College, is a residential hall that seeks to embody a respectful community where residents pursue group initiatives based on the interest of its residents and provide an atmosphere of tolerance, encouragement, and activity. 

    WesMASS: Wesleyan Math and Science Scholars Program The Wesleyan Mathematics and Science Scholars Program is a two-year program that begins the summer immediately prior to a student’s first year at Wesleyan. The summer program consists of several pre-matriculation activities to prepare students for the academic expectations in Wesleyan math and physical science courses. Over the two academic years, scholars participate in a variety of workshops and activities aimed at building sustained relationships with faculty and peers.

    WesWell: WesWell, the Office of Health Education, understands the impact of student health on academic performance and is committed to providing services that are designed to develop healthy behaviors and prevent health concerns that may interfere with academic and personal success.

    Wes Wings/Swings: Located at 156 High St, Wes Wings is loved for its wings (clearly), cookie dough, really everything.

    Withdrawal from a Course: Students decide to withdraw from courses for any number of reasons, such as illness, family emergency, or an inability to fulfill the requirements for the course. Students have until a week before the last day of classes to determine whether they need to use this option. If you withdraw from a course, you will receive a W, which will be recorded on your transcript. You would use this form.

    Withdrawal from the University: Students may voluntarily withdraw from the university. This does not include withdrawal from courses if the withdrawal occurs after the course withdrawal deadline. Students who voluntarily withdraw from the university are eligible for readmission.

    WSA: The Wesleyan Student Assembly, the main form of student government on campus, aims to empower student voices on campus to enact meaningful, impactful, and lasting change. They bridge the gap between students, administrators, staff, faculty, and other community members to illuminate needs and create solutions that will meet those needs. 

    X House: Malcolm X House is a residence for Wesleyan students who wish to live in an environment dedicated to the exploration and celebration of the cultural heritage of the African Diaspora, both for themselves and for the larger Wesleyan community. It is located at 345 High Street.


  • Campus Resources/Sources of Important Information:

    An additional list of resources can be found at:

    Academic Regulations

    General regulations regarding degree requirements, AP/IB credits, General Education Expectations, Honors, etc. Degree requirements can be found here:

    Academic Review and Promotion:

    Requirements for good academic standing and promotion to the next semester as well as a description of academic disciplines.

    Accessibility Services

    The mission of Accessibility Services is to create an accessible and inclusive learning environment where disability is recognized as an aspect of diversity.  The office provides students with academic accommodations, but it is also mindful of universal design across the university.

    Career Center

    The Gordon Career Center works with students of all class years to translate their liberal education into a lifetime of meaningful work.

    Class Deans

    Class deans are responsible for a comprehensive program of academic advising and class management in the context of a residential liberal arts environment. This includes helping students develop educational goals and complete their graduation requirements; working with faculty to support student success in the classroom; facilitating access to academic and non-academic support services; and supporting student transitions from high school through the undergraduate years to life post-Wesleyan. It is important to reach out to your class dean with any questions or concerns, academic or otherwise.


    Graduation for the senior class features a weekend of talks and receptions, the culmination being the Commencement Ceremony, which includes speeches given by honorary degree recipients, a student speaker and the conferring of degrees. It takes place at the same time as the Class Reunions.There is an annual commencement robe rental program for students (information will be sent out to graduating seniors).

    Coat Drive

    The Usdan staff is holding a winter coat drive. This is meant to help students who cannot afford a proper winter coat or are for warmer climates where a coat is not necessary. Other winter garments are welcome; contact Michelle Myers-Brown in Usdan to donate or to receive.  

    Connections Program

    Staff and student mentors work with incoming students to support their transition to and through Wesleyan.

    Course Materials on Reserve:

    Online and print course materials are placed on reserve by the instructor at the library so students can check them out for a limited time.

    Equity & Inclusion Office

    The Office for Equity & Inclusion provides leadership and guidance to address systemic inequities for all members of the Wesleyan community. Our culture of inquiry approach to enhancing the educational living and learning experience is designed to promote a healthy, thriving campus climate and a community of excellence predicated on respect for others.

    Faculty Advisor

    Incoming students are assigned a pre-major advisor who will guide them on their course selections, academic trajectory and transition to Wesleyan. Once students declare a major, they are assigned a new advisor from within the department who helps the student to fulfill major and degree requirements and create post-Wesleyan plans. It is important to meet with your advisor regarding academic concerns. Helpful resources regarding advising include the Faculty and Student Advising Handbook and Wesvising.

    Financial Aid

    The Office of Financial Aid at Wesleyan University is committed to enabling the best qualified students to attend, regardless of the family's financial circumstances. Accordingly, Wesleyan's financial aid program awards assistance solely on the basis of financial need. 

    First Class

    First Class is Wesleyan’s first-generation and low-income student coalition that provides regular programming, workshops, and support groups for members. Contact Caroline Liu ‘18 ( or Belen Rodriguez ‘19 ( to become more involved in activities or stay in communication via the Facebook group 

    First Gen Task Force

    Students and faculty members meet regularly to discuss issues facing first-generation and low-income students, and work on policy and programming.

    First Things First Pre-Orientation

    A two-day pre-orientation for first-generation students to come to Wesleyan and learn about resources, the experiences/knowledge of older students, and come to know each other. 

    Grocery Runs

    The Transportation Department offers a free local grocery shuttle service every Sunday from 12:30pm-3:30pm. The van leaves from Usdan to Aldi and Price Chopper and returns.

    Math Workshop

    This drop-in tutoring service is open every weeknight.

    McNair Scholars Program

    Wesleyan's Ronald E. McNair Post Program assists juniors and seniors from under-represented groups in preparing for, entering and progressing successfully through undergraduate and post-graduate education.

    Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program

    The fundamental objective of MMUF is to increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue PhDs in core fields in the arts and sciences. 

    Office Hours/Drop-in Hours

    Faculty members and class deans usually have office hours or drop-in hours, times during which they are available for students to come speak with them. These are essential to know about and are ordinarily listed on syllabus (see below).


    Beyond attendance, it is important to actively and critically engage in discussion-based courses.

    Questbridge at Wesleyan

    QuestBridge is a national nonprofit based in Palo Alto, California that connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with leading colleges and opportunities with chapters across the country.

    Quest Scholar Liaison, 2016-2017: Belen Rodriguez ‘19


    Recognizing that some students may need financial support to purchase business attire to interview for jobs or internships, the SuitUP Program provides eligible students with a $200 grant for that purpose.  Current undergraduate students in good standing who are receiving need-based financial aid at the time they apply are eligible for the grant. Contact the receptionist? 


    Ordinarily provided by instructor of course on the first day of class, the syllabus often includes the course schedule, expectations, any required course materials and grading criteria.

    Teaching Assistant (TA)

    Assist the instructor by providing review sessions, may do some grading. Ordinarily undergraduate students who have done well in the course in a previous term.


    A full listing of courses for a given academic term with extensive search possibilities.

    Writing Mentor

    Mentors and mentees meet on a weekly basis on particular writing concerns (generating ideas, structuring an essay, improving grammar, etc.). This program is designed for students who enjoy regular collaboration.

    Writing tutor

    Tutors in the Workshop will meet with you in one of five campus locations.  They will read papers from courses across the curriculum and work individually with everyone from first-year students to thesis writers.  You can ask them for help at every stage of your writing process-- when you are organizing ideas, structuring a paper, or editing a draft.  Tutors also work closely with students who are learning English as a second language.

  • Tips for Parents

    Be sure to look over as it features a great deal of information for parents.

    Another good resource is the Parents Handbook: 

    The class deans also created a document that is designed to provide you with an overview of the kinds of issues that students typically face during their time at Wesleyan and provides you with sets of questions that may help you get a better sense of how your son or daughter is faring, both as a student and a member of the Wesleyan community.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch with your son or daughter’s class dean:

    Suggestions for how to support your student during their time at Wesleyan:

    • It can be important for parents to discuss the importance of attending class regularly, reading before class, taking thorough notes, completing all class assignments, and participating in study groups. 
    • Encourage your son or daughter to ASK FOR HELP. We have many resources to support students, such as the class deans, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), writing mentors and tutors, the Math workshop, peer tutors, Teaching Assistant (TA) Review Sessions, professors’ office hours and Peer Advisors, all of which are described in more detail above.
    • Parents should talk about how their student’s approach might have to change from class to class and semester to semester. For example, students might work with a writing tutor when they are required to write papers and perhaps seek out a peer tutor or attend TA review sessions when grades are based on exams.
    • Parents should stress the importance of effective time management. For example, parents can encourage their student to use a planner or calendar (either electronic or on paper), put together “to-do lists”, and keep track of due dates for assignments and tasks that need to be accomplished.
    • Parents might also want to discuss the dangers of spending too much time on outside commitments, socializing or online. All of these are important, but moderation is key given the demands of academics and, when applicable, student employment.
    • If possible, attend Family Weekend to become knowledgeable about the resources/services available to your student, since parent/family support can be key to the academic success of college students.
    • Your son or daughter may not be able to come home every weekend if they are living on campus. Even if it is only 5 or 10 miles away from home, they may not have the same amount of time to devote to family responsibilities as they did before.
    • Be patient with yourselves and one another, especially since this is a learning experience for everyone (both you and your student). You will all be learning about this transition process together!