Middlebury

It Happens Here (IHH)

 

Chellis House works closely with the student organization It Happens Here, an anti-sexual violence campaign that collects anonymous student stories to raise awareness to the frequency and severity of sexual violence on college campuses. It Happens Here is about giving power to the survivor's voice. Contact group leaders, Katie Preston, Kpreston@middlebury.edu & Michelle Peng, Mpeng@middlebury.edu

 

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Student activist reads at "It Happens Here" annual event

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Academic Advising is an ongoing conversation between students and faculty central to the Middlebury experience, lasting from the earliest days of the First Year Seminar to the selection of a major to the planning for graduation and life after college.

consultation

In the classroom, in the office, over lunch, or while chatting along the walkways around campus, Middlebury College faculty foster students' independence while helping them plan their futures. Students work individually with faculty to develop multi-year strategies that reflect their diverse interests, strengths and academic goals.

Students' advising needs change over their four years at Middlebury:

First-Year Students: Choosing Courses, Transitioning to College Academics

SophomoresDeclaring a Major, Choosing an Adviser, Preparing to Go Abroad

Juniors: Studying Abroad, Internships, Requirements of Majors

Seniors: Senior Research, Capstone Work, Completing the Major, Graduate School and Employment

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I know what my first year seminar is. How will I select my other courses?

You will meet with your first-year seminar during Orientation. Your First Year Seminar professor, who is also your adviser, will go over course selection and registration for classes, and you will sign up for individual meetings with him or her during the week. Some professors structure this first class to be a broad introduction to Middlebury’s academic environment, while others choose to begin exploring the seminar topic immediately. You may even get some homework for your second class meeting, the following week!

Following your seminar, all students interested in taking classes in departments that require placement exams will take exams; see your Orientation materials for more details. The results of these tests will help you to plan your class schedule.  

There will also be drop-in 90-minute pre-advising sessions held in the Commons.  If you don't have a placement exam, go to your commons headquarters (where you first came the day before) in order to participate in the pre-advising.  You are strongly encouraged to do a pre-advising session at some point during the pre-advising period, and BEFORE your appointment with your academic adviser.  If you do have placement exams, or if the pre-advising sessions are full when you arrive, don't worry.  Sessions will be available at other times.  Make sure, as well, that you let the session organizers know if you have an imminent meeting with your adviser.  They will then make it a priority to get you in to a session before that meeting.  

Later in the afternoon, you should also attend the Academic Forum in Kenyon Arena, where all of Middlebury’s academic departments will have faculty representatives available to answer any questions you may have.  If you need to meet with department representatives before you can come up with some course choices, it might be a good idea to sign up for advising sessions that occur AFTER you have a chance to attend the course forum.

After taking placement exams, attending a pre-advising session, visiting the Academic Forum, and talking through your interests with your adviser, you will register for your remaining courses on-line on Thursday afternoon. You will receive additional information about registration via e-mail.

A normal course load is four courses. Classes meet for a minimum of three hours each week. Some classes, especially in the languages and sciences, meet more often for intensive language drills and laboratory work, and others have evening film screenings.  You’ll need to spend some time experimenting with different course schedules. The whole process can resemble a jigsaw puzzle at times as you figure out what courses actually fit with each other.  You may use the My Schedule Planner available at http://go.middlebury.edu/catalog to help you consider your options.  Or you may use hard copy of the catalogue, which your commons pre-advising sessions will supply, along with a blank paper schedule on which you can write.  You should also take advantage of the First Year Registration Booklet sent to you by email before you arrive, which has all the information you need, as well as lists of courses that Middlebury departments and programs have suggested for First-Year students.

The Middlebury campus is large for a school of its size (240 acres), so we allow fifteen minutes between classes. Don’t hesitate to take classes that meet back-to-back; there is ample time to get from one place to another.


What kinds of courses should I consider in my first semester?

First-year students should seek to balance their course loads by both interest and type. Different kinds of courses have different rhythms during the semester.  We recommend that you select:

--1 course in your major (or possible major);
--1 course you enjoy or are good at, or to fulfill a distribution requirement; and
--1 course that stretches you by introducing you to something new.

We also suggest that you balance your course load among:

--Courses with dense reading, 1-4 major papers, and exams (e.g. Literature, History, Religion, Philosophy, Sociology-Anthropology, Geography, Political Science, and Art History);

--Courses with daily homework, frequent quizzes and drills, presentations and tests (e.g. Economics, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Natural Sciences)

--Courses with some reading and with time-intensive "hands-on" tests, presentations, group work, and concerts or performances (e.g. Music, Studio Art, Theater, Dance, and Film).


Will I actually be able to get into the classes I want or need?

It’s entirely possible that you won't get exactly the class schedule you want most. Courses and sections are limited in enrollments to ensure classes of a reasonable size, and courses do fill up and close.

It's also possible that courses may not be open to you because of prerequisites or because they are too advanced for first-years.  When you look at the catalogue, begin by examining what each department says, above its listing of courses, about its policies on course admission.  Then you will know broadly what courses are open to you, and best for you to take in your first year, in that department.  Also check the course descriptions themselves for courses that must be taken concurrently or before the course you are taking. For instance, in History, first-year students are clearly welcome to take 100-, 200-, and 300-level courses, and only the 400-level courses require special permissions in order to be taken in the first year.  In Physics, on the other hand, even some 100-level courses have co-requisites or prerequisites, while others are open to everyone, regardless of prior classes. Again, the First-Year Registration Booklet that you receive by email before you arrive may be helpful in this regard.

Don’t be afraid to take a calculated risk: the Middlebury curriculum is rich in subject areas which were not offered at your secondary school. You will be advised to explore alternatives and come to registration knowing three or four ways that your first-semester courses will satisfy your needs. You will also be able to take advantage of the add/drop period, which begins on the first day of classes and runs through the first two weeks of the semester.  During the add/drop period, faculty give students permission to add their courses by signing add cards. Add cards are available at the Registrar’s Office (Forest Hall) and in the Commons offices.


I'm confused by Middlebury’s distribution requirement.

Don’t be; it’s not that complicated. We have a course distribution requirement based on eight categories of courses, and a cultures and civilizations requirement involving four categories of courses.  You must take one course in seven of the eight academic categories, and one course in each of the four cultures and civilizations categories.

A listing and explanation of these categories are in the hard-copy Catalog (the Catalog in its most up-to-date form can be accessed on-line through the College’s web page) and pages 11-12 of the First-year Seminar Registration materials you received this summer.

It makes sense to keep course distribution in mind as you choose classes. The requirement that you cannot choose more than one course this term in any one discipline ensures distribution at this point.


Does the first-year seminar count toward the distribution requirement?

It might. Check the First-year Seminar Registration booklet (sent to you by email before your arrival) to see if your seminar covers any distribution category or categories (in bold-face capital letters).


Are there any idiosyncrasies in the Distribution Requirement?

You won't get Foreign Language credit for first-year French or first-year Spanish.  This is because many students have taken French and Spanish in high school, and might choose to repeat that work at Middlebury in order to satisfy the distribution requirement.

Other than that, it's pretty straightforward: one course in seven of eight categories. Note in the course catalog that distribution categories are listed after the course description.


I want to continue studying the foreign language I studied in high school. How do I know my level? How do I know which course to take?

As noted earlier, on the first Tuesday of Orientation, placement tests will be offered (see page 28 in the First-Year Seminar Registration booklet for a full schedule and explanation of placement tests). You can also speak with faculty members from particular departments at the Academic Forum on Tuesday afternoon.


Does it make sense for me to begin a new language now, or should I wait until I have my feet on the ground?

If you want to study abroad in your junior year in the language you are considering taking, you should probably begin now. If you start next year, you will be required to come to come to Middlebury summer school in order to be qualified for study abroad.

Keep in mind, however, that studying at Middlebury in the summer is a great way to learn languages. Students who begin the "less-commonly taught" languages – Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, or Japanese - in their first year often take the third year of the language in the summer before going abroad in the junior year.


I plan to begin a language from scratch.  I don't have to take a placement exam, right?

Wrong.  In some cases, a placement exam is required even if you don't know a word of the language. Check the placement exam chart to see the department's policy.  The French Department, for example, requires students to take an online placement exam even if they plan to enroll in beginning French.


So if I want to study abroad, I have to be qualified to study in the language of the country in which I am studying?

As simply stated as possible, our study abroad policy is as follows:

a)  If you study in a country whose people speak a language we teach at Middlebury, you must qualify at the intermediate/advanced level (two years or more of college study).
b) If you study in a country whose people speak a language we do not teach at Middlebury (for example, in Scandinavia, Greece, Poland), your program of study must include language study.
c)  If you study in an English speaking country (i.e. the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia), you must be able to meet other conditions established by the Programs Abroad Committee.

Over half of Middlebury students study abroad in their junior year. Most of those students are taking classes in the language of the host country.


May I take two languages?

Yes, but keep in mind distribution concerns. But DO NOT BEGIN TWO LANGUAGES IN THE FIRST SEMESTER. First year language study usually has an intense winter term component that would be impossible to accommodate in two languages. Wait until next year to begin a second new language.


May I take two lab courses in the sciences?

Yes, but keep in mind distribution concerns. The wisdom of taking two lab courses depends entirely upon your science background and aptitude.  If you are a very strong science student, and you have an ambition for a career in the sciences, go ahead.  In other cases, your high school record and aptitude scores might indicate that it would be wise to wait and not take two lab sciences immediately.


What should I do if I am planning a career in the health professions (medical, dental, veterinary, etc)? Or if I am interested in a major with lots of requirements?

If you plan to be pre-med, you should be sure to meet with Arlinda Wickland, Health Professions Adviser, in order to familiarize yourself with the pre-med course requirements. You don't have to major in the sciences to be pre-med, but it's important that you start early and take the right sequence of courses.  Note that the First Year Registration Booklet, sent to you by email before your arrival, has information on these sequences of courses.  The full Health Professions Handbook has even more information, as does the Health Professions Website on which it is located.  Consult these documents, but do also meet with our health professions staff as early as possible.

Other departments, Economics and International Studies, for example, ask you to get started early in order to get through required preliminary courses.  Again, read the Catalog. Talk to your adviser.


Should I worry about my major now?

It's okay if you don't know what you want to major in. The first year is for experimenting, finding out about yourself and your interests.  If you hope to study abroad in your junior year, however, it does make sense to get started in your major this year, so you will have required courses out of the way by then.   Likewise, it is important to start pre-medical courses if you intend to take the MCATs during your junior year.

If you have two or three major possibilities, take classes in your first year in those areas, and you will end up knowing more about your direction at the end of the year. Read the Catalog closely so you know the demands of different departments in which you are interested.


I love Biology; I think I’ll major in it. May I take more than one course in Biology this semester? In any department?

No.  The first year is for spreading out, to experience liberal arts diversity, to "distribute" your courses over the curriculum.  In the second semester, with your adviser's support, it is possible to take two courses in the same department, but keep in mind distribution concerns.


May I take five courses - or six?

No.  First-year students take a maximum of four courses.  No exceptions in your first semester.  The rule for five courses is:  "permission is granted to students who have maintained an average of B or better in the two preceding terms."  If you think an exception is warranted for the spring, see your adviser and then your Commons dean.  Five is the maximum number of courses allowed, and then only with authorization.


How about three courses?

Yes. It is your prerogative to take three courses.  For some students, taking three courses in the first semester makes good sense.  Usually, it is advisable to start with four courses, then drop down to three if the workload is too great, or if one course entirely eludes you. Remember that you have to make up that course credit at some point (unless you have an AP credit, or credit earned from some other college or university prior to coming to Middlebury). International students should take care to maintain whatever full course load your visas require.


A two course load?

No.  Students must be registered for at least three courses at all times. They may drop to two only with the permission of the Administration Committee in the case of extreme personal circumstances (for example, a family tragedy or a serious medical problem).


Should I worry about writing-intensive courses?

Not yet.  Each first-year seminar is writing intensive.  Sometime in the next three semesters, after the first, you will have to take one more writing-intensive class.  They are listed in the hard copy Catalog and on the web. You cannot get writing credit for an additional course beyond your FYS in your first semester.


I’m not an ace on the computer.  Can I get help?

The Technology Help Desk in the Davis Family Library takes pride in being user friendly. There are student consultants who will work with you, as well as classes for beginners; also, students in your residence hall will be happy to teach you the basics. Make sure you look over the computer materials provided to you at the Welcome Center when you first arrive on campus. Drop in to the Technology Help Desk in the library during Orientation to discuss with the consultants your needs and concerns, call the Help Desk at 802-443-2200 or email the Help Desk at helpdesk@middlebury.edu. http://go.middlebury.edu/whd.


Am I restricted only to 100-level courses in my first year?

No. It may make sense for you to take courses at the 200 and, in many cases, 300 levels.  Sometimes those numbers just indicate the scope of the course topic; sometimes they indeed indicate how advanced the material is.  In the natural sciences and languages, students often will place higher than the 100 level.  Be sure to talk to department chairs at the Academic Forum on Thursday and to take the placement exams at their scheduled times. 400-level classes are not usually open to first-year students.


When will I find out about my AP credit?

AP credit will appear on your Banner Web transcript. You will be notified by e-mail when it has been posted to your record.  Your adviser will receive a copy of these results.  AP credit guidelines were spelled out in the First Year Registration Booklet, sent to you by email before your arrival.


I took college-level work before coming to Middlebury. How can I get that credit evaluated?

You should contact the Registrar’s Office in Forest Hall.  You should keep in mind that the rule of thumb is that this study has taken place in a college environment (that is, under the supervision of college professors, with college students in the class). Also, you may not have used this credit toward your high school diploma.


I’m an international student. How about the International Baccalaureate?

Middlebury welcomes students from I.B. schools and awards 5 course credits for students who earn the full I.B. diploma with 36 or more points, and at least three higher level scores of 6 or 7. Partial credit is also available. See a staff member in the Registrar’s Office in Forest Hall for further information.


I have a certified disability. How does that information get to my professors?

Jodi Litchfield is the Coordinator of the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) Office. You should make it a point to see her right away to discuss your disability and the accommodations that make sense, and how best to communicate with your professors.


I need to earn money.  Can I succeed in my studies and still work?

Yes.  The financial aid award, for those students who qualify, is based in part on the expectation that students can earn spending money.  We wouldn't do this if it weren't possible.  Job obligations will, however, require you to be responsible when planning your time.


How about sports?  I love sports but I'm worried they will take up too much of my time.  Should I go out for a team?

Middlebury students should be able to succeed in their studies and commit themselves to a gratifying extra-curricular activity.   An extra-curricular activity is an important part of the education of many students.  Sports practices begin at 4:30 p.m. at the end of the daily class schedule.  The Athletic Department asks for a commitment from its varsity athletes, but understands and wholeheartedly supports the academic priorities of the College.  If you play on a team, it will be important for you to manage your time carefully.

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Academic Advising and Course Selection

Academic Advising

The goal of the academic advising program at Middlebury is to ensure that effective academic advising is available - and is taken advantage of by all students. Effective advising can be the result of a close relationship between students and their official faculty advisers, or of a combination of official advising and informal advising from a variety of mentors who share their expertise because of their interest in students' success at Middlebury. There are many intentional redundancies in our system: faculty members, deans and other student affairs professionals, Residential Life staff members, and peer advisers all provide academic advising. We hope both the formal and informal advising systems work on behalf of our students and add up to a supportive environment – that is to say, good advising.

All first year students are advised by the instructor in their first-year seminar, a course selected the summer before their enrollment.  The majority of professors in those classes, which have a maximum of fifteen students, are faculty with several years of experience at Middlebury, and many are senior faculty. This arrangement, in place now for well over a decade, ensures frequency of contact between adviser and advisee and has served Middlebury students well--a vast improvement over any previous approach.

Here are some frequently asked questions about advising and course selection.

Here is the current First Year Registration Booklet.  This is an excellent resource, featuring everything you need to know about course selection and the curriculum, and listing courses that departments and programs recommend for first Year Students.

Here is a video on schedule planning with the online scheduler and course catalogue.

And here are some important links:

Course schedules

Course Catalog 

Searchable Course Catalog & Schedule Planner

Course Hub

Registration and Course Selection

At the end of their campus orientation, all new students complete the registration process, choosing their courses selections online, via bannerweb.  Here are instructions for doing so:

Declaring the Major

When students declare their major, they also select an adviser from the faculty in that major (or majors - nearly half of all Middlebury students have combined majors of some kind). For some students in their second or third semesters at Middlebury, selecting a major adviser is more difficult than selecting the major itself; those students are encouraged to work with the department or program chair, until they have further experience in that major and find a faculty member best suited to their interests and needs. Students may select their major at any time after the first semester; they are required to declare their major no later than the end of their third semester. After the first semester of a student's experience at Middlebury, when the first-year seminar ends, the relationship between adviser and advisee subsides in frequency of contact. The challenge, then, to adviser and advisee, is to maintain the momentum of the first semester. Those students who are "undeclared" but whose first-year adviser is on leave – or otherwise unavailable to advise, are assigned to their Commons Dean, who provides transitional advising.

Student Initiative

Advising tends to be most productive early and late: first year students receive special attention; seniors often do intensely collaborative work with faculty in their majors. Good, active advising often depends on the initiative students take to maintain a relationship with faculty mentors. Faculty members at Middlebury are teachers and take seriously their advising responsibilities: they are available. They will not intrude, however, and will respect students' desire for independence. Advising relationships emerge from faculty members' academic expertise and a shared interest in students' work. The adviser/advisee relationship often develops into a relationship that lasts well after a student leaves Middlebury.

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Getting Started

Answers to frequently asked questions by new students just getting started at Middlebury.





 

After the First Week

Answers to frequently asked questions by students after their first week at Middlebury.



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