Major Tips #2

While you want to major in something about which you are passionate or have the depth of interest to sustain your curiosity and inspiration over the next couple of semesters, don’t get too hung up on the connection between your major and career.  Yes, there are those careers, such as, for example, the sciences or economics, in which you do need a particular knowledge background to go on to graduate or professional school.  However, that does not preclude you from majoring in a humanities, another social science or art, as long as you have taken the appropriate courses–and vice-versa.   

What’s important to remember is that your skill in analytic thinking or writing may be perfect for law school.  Your training in theater may be just what is needed for product consultation at Microsoft (yes, truly, this has been a job for a couple of Wes alums).   Your ability to think critically, speak articulately, and write succinctly are as valued as your imagination, creativity and chutzpah.  Your major and career are not necessarily in a one-to-one relationship.    

It’s fascinating to see the myriad number of things that Wes alums have done with their majors.  To check this out, go to  WesCAN in the Career Resource Center bucket in your portfolio.   But first, you need to need to see one of the CRC staff members.  Tsophomore liaison is Jim Kubat  (, but any  staff member is happy to meet with you.  Your visit to the CRC is worth it in more ways than one.

Major Tips #1

There are some sophomores who know exactly what they want to major in.  There are some sophomores who have narrowed it down to two or three disciplines or subjects.   And there are some sophomores who are still trying to figure out what they want to spend the next five semesters exploring in depth.  While second-semester sophomores declare their majors by October 29, 2010, first-semester sophomores declare their majors between February 3 and March 5, 2011. 

Obviously, you want to find an area of inquiry that excites you intellectually, keeps you interested, challenges you, and inspires you to learn more.  What have you found you are passionate about?  (And if you are still looking, that’s okay!).  Check out check out the major declaration website at, talk with your advisor, professors, and class dean, and stay tuned for the Major Tips #2.

Reminder: Survey Part II Deadline — 8/26 — Enrollment Hold

Reminder about the August 26 Survey Deadline  

We really want to know more about how you assess your academic skills, so please take a few minutes to complete Part II of the Academic Skills Assessment Survey. 

If you have completed it, great!  And thank you! 

If not, an enrollment hold will go into effect on Thursday, August 26, so avoid the time and trouble later by doing the survey now!  Click away!

Advice to the 2014’ers: What do you wish you had known?

What do you wish you had known as you were starting your first semester at Wesleyan?  What do you wish you had done differently?  What changes have you made?   What did you do to make your first semester (and second, for that matter) a successful one?  In other words, what advice can you give the incoming members of the Class of 2014 as they anticipate their first semester at Wesleyan?  With your first year of college nearly done, you are uniquely qualified to suggest the steps that the new ‘14’ers should take for a successful semester, so let’s hear ’em!  

Send your suggestions and advice–brief or lengthy–to me at  Woo hoo!

Note from Dean Brown: Housing & Pre-registration

Hey Class of 2013,

From meeting with so many of you recently, I know that you are back in the full swing of school after spring break.  There is much to be done as we look toward the end of the semester and next fall (already!).


The housing lottery can generate a good deal of excitement as well as anxiety as you decide where you would like to live and with whom.  Just remember that whether you will be moving solo or with others, this is a small campus and everybody is close by.  Wherever you end up, be open to the opportunity to meet new people and make new friendships.  Since this is your first-time participating in the housing lottery, you may have a ton of questions.  As part of First-Year Focus, Melissa Powers, the associate director of residential life, will be available to answer them all this Thursday, April 1 in Usdan 108 from 7-8 p.m.  Stop by, get an answer, grab a snack!


thumbnailCA66YGAZThe planning period begins on April 1 (no kidding) and closes on April 15; scheduling runs on April 16; and the adjustment period goes from April 19-23.  Make an appointment with your faculty advisor NOW, if you haven’t done so already, and be prepared for your meeting with at least eight different course preferences to discuss.

 Besides keeping in mind the balance between kind of work, days and time across the week, and course diversity, it is a good idea to include a course from a discipline in which you might want to major.  Explore these possible majors-of-interest online by going to and clicking on the appropriate departments to get a better understanding of the major itself and a handle on major requirements.  You do not want the door closed next spring because you did not, for example, get the pre-requisite grades on two courses in PSYC or FILM, fulfill Stage 1 for GOVT, take Drawing I or another gateway course.  In your course planning, keep an eye on these kinds of things.  You also may want to consider taking some of the intro or gateway courses over the summer at Wes’ summer session.

 If you are thinking about studying abroad in your junior year and have an ambitious course agenda or are interested in a more structured major, tentatively sketch out what courses you would need to take over the next six semesters, including while abroad, to complete a potential major.  This should give you a better idea of what is feasible and also what is important to you.  However, just as the opportunity to experience living in another culture is compelling to some, the opportunity to do research on campus, work more closely with Wes faculty, take on campus leadership roles or play varsity sports is as compelling to others.   The point is to begin to think about these things now.  While it may seem a bit early to do so–it’s only your second semester!–you need to take yourselves seriously as student-scholars and plan accordingly.  Thinking ahead can enable you to formulate and realize your goals.

At the same time, keep exploring the curriculum!  You never know when you are going to discover your intellectual passion–or another one.  There is so much to learn at Wes!


As always, check the class blog out at for information about academics, events, announcements, and other information, and come see me if you have any questions or concerns.  My drop-in hours and other contact info are below.

Best, Dean Brown

202 North College   860-685-2758 (office)

Drop-in Hours:  M–2-3 p.m.   T–3-4 p.m.   W–5-7 p.m.   Th–11 a.m.-noon   F–2-4 p.m.

Thinking about thinking about a major?

Interested in thinking about how to think about a major?  Check out Dean Phillips’ sites on the Class of 2012 blog for thumbnailCA1JGYEWmore information about major declaration and open houses.  This will be you next year!

 There’s also a Major Declaration category on the blog

English Dept. Events — Feb. 10 & 11

English at Wesleyan

English at Wesleyan is sponsoring two very special creative events on Wednesday, February 10.  Both events showcase the creativity, energy, and fun we have in English at Wesleyan.

“How to Write a Love Poem That Doesn’t Suck,” February 10

Frosh and Sophomore English Department Valentine Week Event!

“How to Write a Love Poem That Doesn’t Suck” is actually the title of a poem and it is the perfect title for this creative event!  This first-time-ever writing workshop is just for frosh and sophomores, and it will introduce those who attend to the artfulness and energy of English at Wesleyan.  Frosh and sophomores interested in trying their hand at writing on the theme of love–poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction–can receive guidance from the EnthumbnailCANDE80Aglish Department’s exciting Creative Writing Concentration faculty:  Silverberg Shapiro Professor of Creative Writing and Coordinator of the Creative Writing Concentration Elizabeth Willis (poetry), Professor of English Deb Unferth (fiction), and Professor of English Lisa Cohen (creative non-fiction). Joel Pfister, Chair of the English Department and Kenan Professor of the Humanities, will introduce his talented colleagues.  It all takes place on Wednesday, February 10, 4:15 Downey Lounge!  Frosh and sophomores who love to write creatively (or who would love to try writing creatively) can write creatively about LOVE!  Go for it!  Groovy treats will be served! 

“Creating the Creative”: English Department Writers Read, February 10

For all members of our Wesleyan Community!

“Creating the Creative” is a provocative quote from Herman Melville’s experimental novel, Mardi (1849).  It can be argued that Melville here was referring to the creative energy of a literary text to keep generating meanings with readers and changing times.  Three inspiring and distinguished Wesleyan writers who have taught at Wesleyan will read from their work:  Kit Reed, Clifford Chase, and Douglas Martin (visiting writers Chase and Martin are teaching English courses this term).  They will be introduced by the English Department Creative Writing Concentration Faculty: Silverberg Shapiro Professor of Creative Writing and Coordinator of the Creative Writing Concentration Elizabeth Willis, Professor of English Deb Unferth, and Professor of English Lisa Cohen.  Joel Pfister, Chair of the English Department and Kenan Professor of the Humanities, will introduce the event.  So come see Wesleyan artists who create the creative on Wednesday, February 10, 8:00 Russell House!  Cool treats will be served!


English at Wesleyan Open House, February 11

The English Department’s Open House for prospective majors–interested sophomores and frosh–will be held the next day, Thursday, February 11, 4:15, Russell House.

Welcome Back!


I hope that you are rested and eager to get the spring semester underway.  If you didn’t get a chance yet, check out my e-mail (Note from Dean Brown) sent to the class on January 14.

Stop by the office sometime soon to say hi!  Best, Dean Brown

Drop-in Hours go into effect when classes begin:

Mon.—2-3 p.m., Tues.—3-4 p.m., Wed.—5-7 p.m., Thurs.—11 a.m.-noon, Fri.—2-4 p.m.

Note from Dean Brown

Hello 2013’ers!

thumbnailCAETRXFRAh, the last day of classes.  Amazing how time flies.  I remember when all the cars were lined up on Andrus Field and families were trekking up loads of stuff to get you moved in on arrival day.  Soon most of you will be packing backpacks and suitcases and scattering all across the country and the globe for winter break.  In a week’s time, you will have completed one semester of college!

 But of course, between now and then, are finals and the preparatory reading days.  I hope you have planned out your work in manageable chunks, and are hitting the books, libraries, labs and studios with focused energy and confidence.  There is still time to avail yourself of the myriad academic support services, should any of those be helpful to you (  Please do not hesitate to contact me, if I can be of assistance.

 2. Class Blog:

Check out your class blog a couple of times a week.  While some of the material posted is advertising for events, other material is official information that you need to know.  So “I didn’t know” won’t fly.  Besides, you gotta check out “Celebrating Students.”  If you or a friend has had the opportunity to do something cool, achieved a goal, or accomplished a project in any field or area, let me know.  We’ll get you posted at

 3. Academic Regulations: 

Speaking of needing to know, it is your responsibility to know the academic regulations, so check them out, especially the information about Academic Standing and Academic Review at:

4. Take a Study Break and Join in for Carols and Snacks…:thumbnailCARMVCCZ

Join members of the first-year class for some caroling on Wednesday, December 16 at 7 p.m. followed by a Study Break at 8 p.m.!  Meet at 7 p.m. on the steps of Olin to go around campus spreading some holiday cheer (lyrics provided).  The study break follows from 8-9 p.m. in Albritton 311, the new café area, with hot chocolate, coffee and cookies and is sponsored by Bon Appetit.  Whether for the singing,  a bite to eat, or both, we look forward to seeing you Wednesday evening. 

Study hard and good luck with finals!  Best, Dean Brown