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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.

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). Of course, there is a positive side to academic integrity, too, which involves making an intellectual contribution to your class.

Learning about academic integrity is an important part of the First Year Seminar, but your seminar cannot possibly cover all aspects of it, for every field. A good, broad introduction is the Academic Integrity Tutorial.  Some First Year Seminar Instructors have their students take this tutorial, which ends with a multiple choice quiz. You can take it, however, whether you are in a seminar or not.  You will find it HERE.  But again, the Academic Integrity Tutorial is only an introduction.  You will inevitably have questions, throughout your academic career, about academic integrity.  NEVER hesitate to ask them.  Professors are happy to answer them.

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 advisor excuse me from a class?

Advisors can excuse you from their own classes only, not from others.  They can talk honestly about your case with other professors and with the deans, but the excuses themselves must come from the deans and other teachers.  If you have what you feel is a legitimate excuse for missing class, you can obtain documentation from a doctor and/or ask your Commons Dean to discuss the matter with your professors. 

What if I am having a personal difficulty or illness about which I don't feel comfortable talking to my professors?

That's part of what Commons Deans are for, and you should talk to your Commons Dean, who can talk to your professor, keeping private what you want kept private but helping you to manage academic pressures without giving information that you don't want given.  You can also talk to your academic advisor, or your Commons Dean can let your advisor know you are having difficulties.  Whether or not you want your advisor to know the nature of those difficulties, your advisor can give you advice on how to manage the academic consequences.

Can't I deal directly with my professors if I have difficulties that are interfering with my academic performance?

Absolutely. In most cases, that's the best choice. The professors themselves may want to confer with the Commons Dean, but there is nothing wrong with talking to them.  Incompletes must be agreed to, for compelling reasons, by the Commons Dean and the professor, and incompletes always come with a date on which the incomplete work is due.

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.

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. CTLR (x3131) is located in the back of the main floor of the Davis Family Library.

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.

Can I take a class Pass/Fail?

Yes, with certain restrictions.  First, it's not Pass/Fail but Pass/D/Fail, so if you get anything lower than a C-, that grade, and not a "P," will appear on your transcript. You cannot take a First Year Seminar Pass/D/Fail.  Pass/D/Fail courses may not be used to satisfy distribution, College Writing, or culture and civilization requirements.  Additionally, these may not be used to satisfy major or minor requirements, except for courses taken before major or minor declarations, for which the chair or director of the relevant department or program grants a waiver.  You cannot take more than two classes Pass/D/Fail during your college career, or more than one per semester, and Pass/D/Fail courses count towards the limit of five courses with non-standard grading, including AP, IB, other pre-college testing credits, and winter term internships.  You must invoke Pass/D/Fail by the fourth week of class, and you cannot revoke Pass/D/Fail after your fifth week.

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.