Where to Start? First-Year Seminars...
...and other good courses for first-year students
Once you know how to read the course descriptions in the Wellesley catalog, you still have to think about which courses will be right for you. It’s helpful to have in mind some principles for choosing courses that will be appropriate starting points for your college academic experiences. Here are three general principles to get you started (you should also look at ideas for negotiating requirements and for getting started in math and science, writing, and language):
First-year seminars are designed especially for first-year students.
Introductory lecture courses are not the only starting points for Wellesley first-year students. Wellesley hosts a strong and diverse First-Year Seminar program, which all first-year students should consider as part of their schedule in their initial year. These courses feature small-group instruction in a setting that allows for students to be introduced to some of the basics in a given field and also to sample what more advanced work would be like, all under the direction of a faculty member working closely with the students. Whatever the specific topic, there's an emphasis on active, collaborative, and creative learning. These courses can be great ways to experiment with an area of study that is new to you, or to pursue an interest you already have. Check out a series of short videos about the specific course offerings for the coming year here.
Choose Courses, not Majors
Most (but not all!) of you had an idea about a possible major in mind, as you applied to college, and some students find it very useful to have the idea of finding their way into an appropriate major as a structure for thinking about their course selections for their first year. But remember, you are not choosing a major until your sophomore year, and we want you to experiment with the curriculum while at Wellesley. If you are not certain about a major yet, that’s fine. Use this first year to explore two or three areas of interest, and trust that your longer-term interests (and that major that goes with those interests) will emerge over time, with good work in the classroom and reflection on your goals and strengths. Choose courses out of your own interests, rather than from a sense that you “should” take this course or that you “need” a course in order to meet a pre-conceived idea of what college should include. Students do best when they are excited and engaged with the course’s material, so pursuing your interests is the best strategy for earning strong grades and building a good foundation for success in later years.
Build on Existing Strengths While Experimenting to Find New Ones
While we want you to explore the curriculum and find out about the interests you don’t even know you have yet, you should also build on the academic successes you already have. Most students come to a college like Wellesley with a sense of academic areas they enjoy, and it only makes sense to do some further work in these areas right away. For many of you, these will be the areas you end up majoring in, and you will want to find out what college-level work in these areas is all about. So if you have enjoyed math in the past, by all means move on to the appropriate course here at Wellesley this fall. If you have a love for art or music, do that. Take something you already love, and make the most of it; you may be surprised what new pleasures are in store for you!