Advising Guidelines


Exploration is a hallmark of liberal learning.  Take your first year at Wesleyan to explore the rich and exciting curriculum, a curriculum that will continue to broaden your knowledge and deepen your understanding of the world and the nature of knowledge as you move forward.  Discovering new intellectual realms and methodologies while diving deeper into those you love allows you to develop new perspectives and hone your academic skills.  The hard part will be to narrow down the courses you want to take, so it is important to think carefully about how to craft a well-balanced and manageable course schedule across the disciplines that both highlights and stretches your intellectual curiosity and creativity.

Overview of the Process

There are three opportunities for you to ultimately enroll in four full credit courses for the fall semester:  Pre-Registration Planning, Pre-Registration Adjustment and Drop/Add.  The first phase will be building a ranked pre-pre-registration plan in July.  First-year students will be ranking seven first-year seminars and seven introductory courses and transfers will be ranking seven introductory and/or upper-level courses from the vast array of offerings listed in WesMaps. Please take your time and look over the course listing in depth so that you can create a balanced and diverse plan of study.   Use the guidelines and videos below to help you think about that plan of study and the courses in which you would like to be enrolled.  Your scheduled courses will appear in your WesPortal in late August, and you will meet with your faculty advisor for an in-depth discussion about your plan of study and educational goals. Your advisor will need to give final approval to your course selections.

Placement Tests and AP/IB Credit

Wesleyan offers placement tests in order for you to enroll in the appropriate level of a language, math or science course.  You will be eligible to rank the math and language courses with pre-requisites during pre-registration planning once you have received the course recommendation from your placement test.  Therefore, it is important that you complete the appropriate placement tests by July 7. This applies to transfer students as well, if there is a course on the college transcript that demonstrates a level of knowledge.

Academic Peer Advisor Rubye Peyser discusses the importance of students taking the placement tests.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credit that is posted to your Wesleyan transcript may also serve as a pre-requisite for some courses.  Some departments require that you take a certain course at Wesleyan before they will allow AP or IB credit to be posted.  Make sure that the College Board has sent your scores directly to the Wesleyan Registrar’s Office.  Ditto for transfer students.

Academic Peer Advisor Eki Ramadhan provides information about posting pre-matriculant credits like AP and IB.

Once you know where you are, you will be better able to plan your course of study.

Pre-Registration Planning: Getting Started with WesMaps

Before creating your four ranked course selections, it is important to explore different department and program websites to learn about a discipline and what is required for the major.  Check out a department’s course descriptions on WesMaps to see if there is an angle or perspective that interests you.  Some departments require an introductory or gateway course, a minimum grade on the intro course, or completion of Stage 1 of the General Education Expectations (see below) to declare the major, while others offer a more structured major that requires a set sequence of courses, especially in the languages, sciences and economics, so keep an eye on this as you explore the curriculum (see “Structured Majors,” below).

The course descriptions in WesMaps provide a wealth of information that will help you identify material, approaches, and perspectives that you would like to explore.  It also tells you whether first-year students are eligible to enroll in a course, whether the course has pre-requisites, the kinds of assessments (i.e., papers, exams, performance), and whether the permission of instructor is needed.  It is important to check out WesMaps for any conditions necessary for course enrollment or to declare the major.

Academic Peer Advisors Kate Davis and Kevin Winnie discuss Pre-Reg Planning.


Academic Support and Resources

Before selecting your courses, you should carefully read, in addition to Advising Guidelines and WesMaps:  The Faculty/Student Advising Handbook, which includes sections on building an academic program and pre-professional concerns (pre-health, pre-law, pre-business, graduate schools); and the academic regulations.  Compliance with academic regulations, including graduation requirements, will be expected, so it is important to familiarize yourself with them from the outset.

The class deans, particularly the first-year class dean, will be available to answer your questions throughout the summer, particularly in July, when the academic peer advisors and departmental peer advisors also will be available for questions.

General Education Expectations

By creating a balanced and diverse course schedule, you will, by default, begin to fulfill the General Education Expectations (GenEds) that were designed to ensure that students get breadth in their education at Wesleyan.  By taking a minimum of three courses in the three different divisions at Wesleyan—Humanities & Arts (HA), Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS), and Natural Sciences & Mathematics (NSM)—you will get a taste of different ways of understanding and perceiving the world.  Some departments require you to fulfill Stage 1 of GenEd—two courses from two different departments in a division, six different departments in total—in order to declare the major.  By taking an additional third course in any department in a division you will have fulfilled Stage 2.  

Academic Peer Advisors Claire Wright and Jessica Katzen discuss GenEd Expectations.


Advising Guidelines for a Balanced Four-Course Schedule

Professor Ishita Mukerji gives some general advice for incoming students on course selection.

The courses you choose should:

  • Represent a diversity of disciplines by enrolling in courses in each of the three academic divisions, including a course in a new subject and a subject you love (and you will begin to fulfill General Education Expectations in the process).
    • Don’t choose all science or all humanities courses, for example, or replicate your high school schedule.  Explore!
  • Call for different kinds of work, such as intensive reading, frequent writing, quantitative problem-solving, performance in the arts or in the studio, scientific research,, etc.
    • Don’t choose, for example, all heavy reading and writing courses or only quantitative courses.
  • Have different bases of assessment, such as papers (short and research), written or oral exams, quizzes, presentations, performances, and/or projects.
    • Don’t choose all courses with only research papers or only exams.
  • Vary in size, since course sizes often, although not always, correspond to different pedagogies, such as small discussion-based seminars and larger lecture courses.
    • Don’t let the size of the class limit your engagement with the material or the professor.
  • Take place throughout the day and week, thereby allowing you to maximize your study time.
    • Don’t load up on courses that meet, for example, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or enroll in several courses that meet back-to back and keep you from having lunch or schedule you with two exams in a row.  You need time to study and regroup.

Below are two examples of balanced course schedules that are drawn from all three divisions across a range of disciplines, are spread across the week and day, and are of different class sizes with different kinds of work and assessments.

(HA)   ENGL150         FYS, first-years only, writing, TTh mornings

(HA)   GRST101         small class, exams, quizzes, essays and oral presentation, MWF mornings 

(NSM) MATH121       mid-sized lecture, exams, MW afternoons     

(SBS)   HIST275          mid-sized lecture/discussion, mid-term, two short papers, TuTh afternoons


(SBS)   SOC151-04     FYS small class, first-years only, writing & discussion,  Tu & Th mornings

(NSM)  BIOL180        large lecture, small discussion, MW morning and F afternoon, exams

(NSM)  CHEM143      large lecture, MWF morning, small discussions, Th afternoon, exams

(HA)     LAT101          small class, quizzes/exams/assignments, MWF afternoons

Academic Peer Advisors Sherrel Mike and Fanying Chen discuss balancing your class schedule.

Structured Majors at a Glance   

All majors are structured to some degree, but some are more structured than others and build in more linear sequence on a foundation of knowledge learned in introductory courses.  While all majors typically require an introductory or gateway course for the major, some departments, such as PSYC, FILM, ARST and GOVT, require interested students to, for example, fulfill Stage 1 of General Education Expectations or earn a minimum grade on a gateway course prior to declaring the major.  Examples of some of more highly structured majors are those in the sciences and foreign languages. 

Foreign Language Study

Foreign-language study is a good idea for all students no matter what their primary intellectual or professional interests.  Deep study of a foreign-language and -culture (as an elective, a major, or a double-major) will open many intellectual and professional doors; provide a stimulating and fun break with small classes and conversation; and fit easily into any kind of schedule.  It will help you stand out in the eyes of employers, professional schools and graduate schools.  For more compelling reasons to study a foreign language, check out this great list, which also includes links to the languages taught at Wesleyan.

If you have studied a foreign language in high school, keep going!  Continuity is crucial because proficiency drops off rapidly without use.  If you have not studied a foreign language, NOW is the time to get started at Wesleyan.  Most foreign-language sequences begin only in the fall, so you should preregister this summer in foreign-language courses for this coming semester.

Taking foreign-language courses in your first year will also ensure that you are prepared to undertake study abroad if you decide to do so down the road.  Studying abroad is incredibly rewarding, as you will hear from other Wes students who have immersed themselves in languages and cultures around the world.  Check out the video, as well as the student videos on language-department websites.

Another good reason to get started now is that foreign-language majors require at least intermediate-level proficiency (third- or fourth-semester college level).  Science majors should bear in mind that a double major in foreign languages and cultures has become an increasingly popular option.  With proper planning, study abroad is perfectly compatible with even the most demanding science major.

If you have studied a foreign language, review the corresponding department’s placement recommendations and take the Wesleyan proficiency exam, which you can access through your Wesportal.  This will help place you at the appropriate level for you to succeed.  Especially at the elementary and intermediate level, year-long (“ampersand [&]”) courses are usually offered.  With this year-long, continuous engagement, you get the deep benefit from a certain fluency in a different way of thinking and perceiving.  It is an amazing experience to get to that place.

Check out now the many foreign-language options available at Wesleyan! 

The Natural Sciences

Professor Ishita Mukerji gives some general advice on starting pathways in the sciences and math for interested students.


Faculty from BIOL, NS&B and MB&B generally advise students to take BIOL181/182 (plus the two labs, 191/192) and either CHEM141/142 or, for more quantitatively-oriented students with a strong chemistry background, CHEM143/144.  While this can be a relatively heavy science load for the first year, it makes the remaining three years more manageable in terms of balancing science and other areas, as well as allows students to study abroad during the junior year.  The second year would be a combination of organic chemistry and NS&B213, MB&B208, or an upper-level biology course (plus two non-science courses).  It is possible to take only intro biology or chemistry in the first year; intro biology is strongly encouraged for potential BIOL and MB&B majors. Taking only intro biology or chemistry in the first year might be a good idea though, if you are unsure about the major or have little interest in studying abroad.  However, some students have taken a pre-approved summer course in organic chemistry, which then allowed them to study abroad in their junior year.

Most potential CHEM majors will take CHEM143/144 or CHEM 250/251 (organic chemistry) in their first year, depending on the level of preparation, but they should be prepared to take organic chemistry by their sophomore year.  It is also possible to major in chemistry by taking CHEM141/142 in the first year followed by organic in the second, although the route through CHEM143/144 or organic is more strongly recommended for well-prepared students.  Some math also should be taken in the first two years.  Students interested in biological chemistry may choose to take intro biology during their first year or over one summer.

Students interested in the physics major should take PHYS113/116 their first year.  Well-prepared students often skip PHYS113 and take other courses, such as PHYS215 in the fall semester.  Very well-prepared students sometimes bypass PHYS113/116 altogether and begin with PHYS213, but only upon consultation with the department.

If you are interested in a MATH major, you should consult the department about the appropriate course in which to enroll, as it is dependent on your level of preparedness.

The economics department advises students to take ECON110 in the first or second semester, if you have a strong math background. There is a calculus prerequisite for this course. The calculus prerequisite can be fulfilled by completing ECON 102, MATH 120, or MATH 121. It can also be fulfilled by receiving a score of 4 or 5 in AP Calculus AB or BC, by receiving a 5, 6, or 7 on the IB Higher Math test, or by placing into MATH 122 or higher according to the Wesleyan Math Placement test. Pre-req overrides will be approved by the instructor teaching Section 01 of ECON 110. Successfully completing ECON110 prepares you for moving on to ECON300, 301 and 302, core courses for both the economics major and minor.

Again, it is important to check each department’s website for more detailed information. WesMaps will be instrumental in guiding your as you prepare your course schedule.

Meeting with your Faculty Advisor

When you meet with your faculty advisor, you will discuss not only your fall semester course plan, but also your educational goals, hopes and concerns at Wesleyan and beyond.  Based on that discussion, you will have the opportunity to make changes to your schedule during the Adjustment period and Drop/Add.  Your faculty advisor will expect to meet with you several times during the semester to discuss other educational matters of importance, and you should feel free to check in with him or her as well.  Advisors will have posted office hours for drop-in or you can schedule an appointment.

Academic Peer Advisors Kate Davis and Kevin Winnie discuss Pre-Reg Adjustment.


Academic Peer Advisors Kate Davis and Kevin Winnie discuss Drop/Add.


Additional Help

If you have questions or concerns as you develop your course plan, you can contact the Academic Peer Advisors at or your class dean or one of the other class deans.

TBA Dean for the Class of 2026
Kelly M. Dunn Dean for the Class of 2025 860-685-2762
David Phillips Dean for the Class of 2024 860-685-2757
Jennifer P. Wood Dean for the Class of 2023 860-685-2774