FYS Advising: The Ideal Schedule for First Year students

  • The student picks three possible FYS courses that interest them (first choice and two alternates).
    • For the pragmatic, mention that all are W1s and some are in General Education Concentrations; a few are Ss and Qs.
    • The only non-FYS that is a W1 in fall is Rhetoric 100; the only W1 in winter is Rhetoric 100, which is very difficult to get into and has lots of writing.
    • FYS need NOT be in their area of major or professional aspiration:  they are about big questions, great readings, and experiences and great discussions.
  • The student picks three courses with two alternates. There is not a one to one match on primary and alternate courses. Instead, the student picks five courses, any three of which would, in combination with one of the three FYS courses, provide a satisfactory schedule.
    • Some students will ask if they can take five courses.  They can only register for four courses during Summer Registration, but could add a fifth course during Add/Drop.  The college does not prohibit but strongly discourages First-Year students from taking a fifth course.  Students cannot register for five courses during the Summer Registration period for First-Year students.  If a student wants to take a fifth course (against advice), they must wait until the drop/add period opens in September.
    • Some students will ask if they can take three courses.  The college does not prohibit students taking three courses and for some students in their first semester in college, this choice might be appropriate.  Students who take three courses are considered full-time students.  A student who takes three courses, however, must complete the fourth credit through transfer credits (e.g., AP, IB, or summer courses) or take five courses during one of the semesters they are at Bates.
  • The student’s schedule is balanced:
    • Across the week – the student should pick a schedule that has them in class five days a week. In our experience, First-Year students who have such a schedule make the transition to college and its time management challenges better than students who have a two or three day a week schedule or who create a schedule that gives them a three-day weekend.
    • Across the curriculum – students should take courses in a variety of disciplines their first semester in college. In addition to offering students exposure to a wider range of fields of study than available in high school, a disciplinarily balanced schedule does not overload the student with one type of classwork and assessment. Students who have to take two labs, or do two types of problem sets or take two reading/writing attentive courses often find the First-Year workload very challenging. Additionally, even if a student is confident in the field of study they wish to pursue (e.g., pre-med, politics, econ, etc.) a disciplinarily balanced schedule will allow students to work more easily towards their Gen Ed requirements.
    • Students can find recommended entry courses for any major or discipline that they are interested in exploring on the Recommended Entry Courses page on the Orientation website.  Students should also look at the “Late Additions” – the most recent courses added to the fall grid for 100 level courses and 200 level courses open to first-year students.
    • Many 200-level courses are open to first-year students.  They will say “open to first-year students.” AVC doesn’t have 100-level courses; Philosophy has only 1 or 2. Students can begin with 200-level courses.
  • The student continues or begins the study of a foreign language.
    • There is overwhelming evidence that the study of a foreign language enhances learning in other fields.
    • Students who study a foreign language their First-Year in college enjoy college more.  The effect is clear.  Researchers speculate that the structure of language classes (small size, frequent quizzes, etc.) is sufficiently similar to the structure of high school classes that it eases the student transition to college.
    • Students who study foreign languages do better on standardized tests.  All post-graduate degree programs require students to take standardized tests.
    • Very few Americans have a proficiency in a second language.  Students who have such a proficiency will find it a boon in the job market of a globalized economy.
    • Poetry in a foreign language is inherently sexy.
  • The students continue their study (academic or not) of the arts.
    • A regret seniors frequently voice is that they did not continue their instrument or choral groups or pottery or plays during their First-Year in college.  It’s very hard to get back to the arts if you take a break your First-Year.
    • Join an orchestra or acapella group.  Try out for a play.  Sign up for a studio course.  These pursuits will renew your spirit for traditional academic studies.  Also, these pursuits are a great way to meet people when you start college.