Parents' Questions for Students
This document, created by the class deans, is designed to provide you with an overview of the kinds of academic, co-curricular, and personal/community issues that students typically face during their time at Wesleyan. The document also 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. The questions, which range from seemingly apparent to more Wesleyan-specific ones, are meant to stimulate ideas about conversations you might wish to have. We hope that they assist you in discussing the college experience with your son or daughter in a way that allows for his or her independence and your continued support. Visit the web sites below for more in-depth information about resources available at Wesleyan. Should there be any other questions or concerns, encourage your son or daughter to visit the class dean.
The following academic, co-curricular, and personal themes apply to all students in most, if not all, of their years at Wesleyan. Academically, all students should understand and monitor their graduation requirements each year. They should get into the habit of reviewing their Credit Analysis Report, General Education Expectations, and major requirements. Students should consult with their class dean and faculty advisor if they have questions about any of the above or about their G.P.A. or grades. Students should discuss their educational goals with their faculty advisors, and consult with them about their course schedule during preregistration and the drop/add period. There are additional resources, such as WesMaps, the course catalog, and the Office of the Registrar, to assist students with course management. Peer advisors, one of the resources within Student Academic Resources, offer workshops and meet one-on-one with students throughout the year on various topics, such as time management, note taking, exam preparation, and study skills, among others.
Students also are reminded to take responsibility for their health, both mentally and physically. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are important contributors to performing at one's highest ability, both academically and personally. They are also important in making good choices, especially when confronted with new situations. Because the college experience is a journey of self-discovery, students may sometimes experiment with drugs and alcohol. Through a variety of resources on campus, students are educated to make responsible decisions and to learn about the risks and consequences associated with drug and alcohol use and abuse. The Office of Student Affairs has several offices dedicated to issues of good health.
Below are suggestions for questions that can help open up conversations with your son or daughter. They are divided into three categories: academic, co-curricular, and personal/community. Following this first general set of questions are ones that are more appropriate to each class year.
- What did you discuss in your meeting with your advisor during preregistration? How do you feel about the way the two of you communicate? What did you talk about? What department is your advisor in? What classes does he or she teach?
- Tell me about your courses and professors. What are you doing in each class? What have you been reading? How do your courses fit together?
- Which courses are your favorites? Which present the most challenge? Do you feel you need additional help?
- How have your courses promoted the acquisition of new skills?
- Are you fulfilling the General Education Expectations (see above)?
- What types of midterms do you have; papers, project, presentations, exams? What is the timeline for your midterms?
- During preregistration in early November and April: What courses are you thinking about taking for next semester? Are you exploring the curriculum and taking advantage of a liberal arts curriculum? Do your courses cover a breadth of disciplines and stretch your mind? Does your course of study help you to become a more intellectually well-rounded person?
- What finals do you have for each course? How are you preparing?
- What extracurricular activities are you involved in? What are you getting out of the experiences?
- Are you able to balance all the things you are doing inside and outside of the classroom?
- Are you making time for yourself? What do you do when you are not doing course work?
- What are your summer plans? Work? Internship? A course?
- What do you do on a typical day? What do you do on the weekends?
- Do you get along with your hall mates or housemates? Where are they from? What are they studying?
- What kinds of decisions are you making around drugs and alcohol? How do your friends' choices influence you when it comes to drugs and alcohol?
- Do you understand the Code of Non-Academic Conduct around issues of drugs and alcohol?
- Do you know who the health peer advisors are? Have you had an opportunity to talk with one of them?
- Have you had a chance to explore Middletown and the surrounding area?
- How is your financial situation? Do you have enough money to get by? Do you need or want to work on campus or off campus?
- What are your plans for fall break, spring break? When do you want to come home? Will you be bringing friends with you?
- Are you having difficulties with ______? Have you talked with your class dean? A therapist at the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)? One of the chaplains?
The First YearJoining the Wesleyan community is an exciting time for parents, a time when sons and daughters begin the journey that marks the transition from high school to college, from adolescence into adulthood, from living at home to living in the world. For most parents, anticipating how their sons or daughters will navigate this transition elicits an understandable measure of apprehension about the uncertainties and struggles that certainly lie ahead. Parents often wonder: Will my son or daughter get along with his or her roommate? Where can help be found if he or she is struggling in a class? Is he or she eating well and exercising? Will my son or daughter be able to get into medical/law/business/graduate school? Get a job? What if he or she changes his or her mind about becoming a doctor/lawyer/writer? Why is it that he or she never calls (or calls all the time)?
Some of the new things that your son or daughter will deal with are developing a relationship with a faculty advisor, and exploring the breadth and depth of a liberal arts curriculum. The transition from high school to college may be daunting at first, but the class dean, associate dean for student academic resources, and peer advisors can assist first-year students with academic skills and strategies. First-year students will begin to learn, if they do not know already, how to balance their co-curricular activities with getting their homework done. They will learn to live with roommates and settle issues that might come up during the year.
If you have not made arrangements already to connect by e-mail or phone on a regular basis, it is a good idea to do so. However, some flexibility is important, since your student will have a busy life on campus. Figure out what makes the most sense for you and your son or daughter to stay in touch.
- Are you keeping on top of your homework? Where do you study? With whom?
- Are you connecting with other first-year students in your courses? What is it like being with upperclass students? Are you speaking up in class?
- If enrolled in a Learning and Living seminar: How is it living with other students in your course? Conversely, how do you like being in a class with students with whom you live? What are the collaborative assignments like?
- Have you met with any of your professors? Have you checked in with your professors about where you stand in their classes? How did that go with each of them?
- What kinds of difficulties are you having in your classes? What kinds of challenges are you finding in some classes? What steps are you taking to address them?
- Have you asked your faculty advisor about certain majors or departments? Have you talked to a peer advisor about his or her experience as a major? How has that swayed your thoughts about majoring in a subject?
- Have you attended any of the academic skills workshops facilitated by the peer advisors? What was the most interesting information you learned from these workshops? Would you want to go to a one-on-one session with a peer advisor?
- What is your exam schedule?
- How do you think you did in your classes this semester? Can we review the grades when they come in?
- What extracurricular activities are you involved in? How are you finding out about these kinds of activities on campus? What about work-study or community service?
- If your son or daughter is in sports or other focused and time-consuming activities: How are you able to get your work done? How are you balancing the two?
- Have you visited to the Wesleyan Career Center? How was it?
- What is a typical day? With what activities are you involved in your residence hall?
- How are things going with your roommate?
- Tell me about the people you are meeting. What kinds of people are you enjoying being with?
- What is your meal routine? Do you eat alone, with friends? How's the food?
- How often do you visit the fitness center?
- Would you like us to visit for Homecoming/Family Weekend?
- Do you want to come home for Thanksgiving? If not, what are your plans? Do you want to bring home a friend?
- When are you coming home for the winter break?
- Have you met with your faculty advisor to discuss possible majors? Have you attended any of the open houses that the departments offer to discuss majors? What has appealed to you?
- What gateway courses have you taken to get into the major? Does it require the fulfillment of General Education Expectations?
- What are the General Education Expectations? Have you completed them yet? If not, how do you plan to complete them?
- How was the meeting with your faculty advisor during preregistration? What courses did you get in preregistration?
- What major will you declare? When will you get a new advisor? Have you met with that advisor yet?
- What courses outside the major will make you a better [historian, biologist, dancer, etc.]?
- Have you considered whether study abroad is feasible in your intended major plan? Have you visited the Office of International Studies for information on study abroad or domestic programs? What programs are of interest to you? What country would you like to go to? Why?
- Have you been able to visit the Wesleyan Career Center to find out what options there are for the summer? Employment, internships, community service?
- What other extracurricular activities are you interested in? How do you get information about co-curricular activities?
- Are you connecting with the same group of friends from last year? Meeting new friends?
- How is your living situation different this year from last year?
- Is this year's meal plan working for you?
- How is your new major advisor? Have you met to discuss major requirements for the next two years?
- What excites you about your major? What courses are you taking outside your major?
- Do you know what the graduation requirements are? Where are you in terms of completing them?
- Are you planning on working on a senior thesis? If yes, where are you in the process? Do you have an advisor? Topic?
- Have you visited the Wesleyan Career Center to discuss plans for the coming summer, such as doing an internship, studying abroad, working, or enrolling in summer courses?
- For study abroad or domestic study-away students: How is the transition back to the campus, to courses, and to friends? Are you able to stay in touch with some of the friends you made on your program?
- For students who stayed on campus: How is it without some of your friends back this semester? Are you meeting new people? Taking advantage of new opportunities to get involved?
- What housing options do you have for senior year?
- What will be your focus this year? What have you always wanted to do that you can do this year? Courses?
- What is your capstone experience? Are you doing a senior thesis? If yes, where are you in the process? Do you have an advisor? What is your a topic?
- Do you know what the graduation requirements are? Where are you in terms of completing them?
- Have you contemplated graduate school or professional school? What does one need to do to apply? How do you figure out which schools to apply to?
- What activities have you always wanted to do but have never had time to do before? Can you do them this year?
- Have you visited the Wesleyan Career Center to discuss your resume and employment opportunities post-Wesleyan?
- How are you and your friends dealing with leaving Wesleyan in May?
- How are you coming along with your post-Wesleyan plans?
The Sophomore YearThe second year presents its own challenges. It is likely that your son or daughter has a firmer grasp of the course registration process and departmental majors, but there are important decisions to be made, such as whether to study abroad in the junior year and what major to declare. The connections with first-year roommates and friends may take on a different dimension and your student may want to spread his or her wings and make new friendships. The relationship with the faculty advisor may become more in-depth as discussions about major declaration take place. Your student may become interested in opportunities in community service and want to plan for a summer internship.
The Junior Year
This is typically the least conflicted of the four years. Having finally declared a major, students have an academic home and the opportunity to devote themselves to their major course of study. This year students take advantage of Wesleyan's study abroad programs, although many students remain on campus and take advantage of research opportunities, the breadth of the curriculum, and co-curricular activities. Juniors have one more summer to take advantage of summer courses and internships before they must begin to formulate plans for post-Wesleyan. The demands of life after graduation have not yet become a pressing reality.
The Senior Year
Students typically experience a range of emotions during this last year as they feel the pressure to meet the demands of graduation requirements and to do everything that they have always wanted to do but have not been able to. They also will want to spend time with friends with whom they have shared the last three years and probably will not see often after this year—all this while planning for what they will do after graduation, an often anxious process. Of paramount importance are the graduation requirements and students need to know exactly what they need to do to complete them by the end of their eighth semester. Good planning is vital for a less stressful year.
All of this is tempered by the fact that they are now seniors. They have worked hard to reach this status and are now at the top of the undergraduate career. Senior theses, projects, or essays are underway in the fall semester, resumes and letters of recommendation are updated and filed at theWesleyan Career Center, and applications for grants, fellowships, and graduate programs are being written. Students are preparing for the employment search and for job interviews held on and off campus. There is a great deal of excitement about moving on with their lives into life post-Wes, exploring new parts of the country or the world, and finding new challenges to creatively meet.