After the First Week

Answers to frequently asked questions from students who've completed their first week at Middlebury.

Middlebury has an Honor Code. How does it work?

Middlebury does indeed have an Honor Code and it’s a very important part of the academic experience at Middlebury. You will learn about the Honor Code during Orientation and receive a booklet that will answer your questions.

None of your exams will be proctored; that is, your teachers will not be in the room. You will write on your exams, essays and lab reports the following pledge: “I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this exam.”

If you are found to have been dishonest by cheating or plagiarizing, penalties are severe (often suspension or expulsion; failure in the exam/essay and/or the course).

Does Middlebury have a class attendance policy?

Some teachers will have an explicit policy, others won’t. Some classes are large and attendance isn’t taken. Most large classes have smaller discussion sections where attendance is crucial and teachers take note of who’s there. It’s perhaps more appropriate to talk about “expectations.” The expectation is that you will come to every class and be engaged, prepared, and respectful of your teachers and your classmates – and of the academic enterprise in general.

If you are having difficulty in a class, the first question that gets asked is about your attendance in class and your timely completion of assignments.

Will my adviser excuse me from a class?

Advisers can excuse you from their classes, but not from others.  They can talk honestly about your case with other teachers and with the deans, but the excuses themselves must come from the deans and other teachers.

What's a Dean's Excuse?

The Deans of Commons have the authority to excuse you from class for extreme medical reasons or for personal emergencies.  The deans have this authority for practical reasons: to facilitate your lives in times of distress.  You explain your problem to one of them, and if appropriate, your dean will contact your teachers excusing you from class and extending assignments.  The deans frequently see students experiencing difficulty and can help you access other support services as well.

Can't I deal directly with my professors if I have conflicts?

Absolutely. In most cases, that's the best choice. Some professors do insist on a "Dean's Excuse."  The faculty has given the deans exclusive authority for final exam changes and incompletes at the end of the term.

What about Winter Term? How does it work?

Middlebury has had a 4-1-4 calendar since the early 1970s. A normal course load of four courses is the expectation in the Fall and Spring Semesters. In January, students take one class intensively from a special catalog of courses. Though some standard courses are offered (Organic Chemistry for one), generally these are courses that are outside the normal curriculum. A great variety of courses are offered and a number are led by expert teachers from outside our faculty. First-year language classes exploit the Winter Term for intensive language study. A Winter Term course counts the same as a fall or spring course.

In order to graduate you must have at least two Winter Term course credits. After the first year, it is possible to do an internship for credit during January – and many students do (last year, 141 students). Internships are administered by the Career Services Office All students living on-campus in January must be earning academic credit for Winter Term. First-year students must take a Winter Term course on campus. The Winter Term course catalog comes out in November and a special on-line registration takes place at that time.

I'm an athlete on a Middlebury team.  Will the deans or the Athletic Department automatically notify my teachers and excuse me from class if I have a game?

No.  There are no "excused" absences for athletic contests.  We have a concept of "explained" absences that depends on communication between students, teachers, and the Athletic Department.  Students on teams go over their contest schedule with their teachers early in the semester to arrange as much as possible adjustments to accommodate conflicts.

The Athletic Department, at the beginning of each semester, sends to every faculty member a list of contests and travel information and copies of the "explained absence" policy.  The exclusive authority for excusing athletes from class rests with individual teachers.

What if I don’t like my roommate?  May I switch my room?

Early on, there's not much flexibility for change. Try to make things better. Talk directly to your roommate to see if you can work out differences. Talk to the counselors in your residence hall (FYCs, CRAs). The residence hall staff takes seriously the roommate questionnaire you filled out and tries to match you with someone with similar interests and a similar lifestyle.

If you have given the situation some time and energy, you've talked to your FYC and CRA, and it still seems impossible, do see your Commons dean.  See what your options are. It is sometimes possible to change rooms and dorms.

I'm having a hard time in one (or more!) of my classes.  How do I get help?

Middlebury should challenge you. Our hope is that you find it rigorous. All incoming students have been successful in their prior study, though some will be better prepared than others. First, talk to the teacher of the class.  See what the teacher suggests as solutions to your problems with the material of the course.  In your first-year seminar, you have a peer writing tutor and, in many classes, an ACE (Academic Counselor for Excellence), upper-class students who have been trained to help with time management.

There are great sources of support in the CTLR (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research) as well. You can get a peer tutor in that subject area there.  Yonna McShane is the Director of Learning Resources.  She, or a member of her staff, can explain the array of CTLR services, which provide help to students experiencing academic difficulty.

I'm not a confident writer.  Can I get help?

Yes, indeed.  The Director of the Writing Program at Middlebury is Kathy Skubikowski (5878).  There are special writing courses (WP100-101) as well as professional writing tutors, whose offices are also located in the library. Your adviser may intercede for you or you may go to the library yourself and make arrangements for help. We also have peer writing tutors; you can also get information about that service in the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research.

How much will this wonderful help cost?

It's all included in the comprehensive fee.

I've tried.  I can't do it in one of my classes.  May I drop it?

Yes, provided you do so before the end of the fifth week of the semester.  That’s a firm deadline. After that, try to salvage the class with a strong effort - or take an "F" and try to do well in your other classes.

What happens to my grades if I drop out of school during the semester?  Do I get four "F's”?

No. If you withdraw from school before December 1 in the fall and May 1 in the spring, nothing at all will appear on your transcript.  You must remain out of school for at least the next semester. You will not receive Fs, and you will not receive any refunds.

I can’t wait for it all to start. I know my teachers will be wonderful and I will love my classes. How can I become a professor too?

Study. Study. Study.