FYS Advising: The Ideal Schedule for First Year students


During summer registration:

    • Your advisee chose three possible FYS courses that interested them (first choice and two alternates).  Thus, your advisee is very likely to have been enrolled in a course that they find attractive.  If your advisee is still not satisfied with their FYS and is considering not taking one, however, Please remind them that:
      • For the pragmatic, mention that all are W1s, some are in General Education Concentrations, and many fulfill a mode of inquiry.
      • The only non-FYS that is a W1 in fall is Rhetoric 100; only a few courses that are W1s are offered in winter.
      • The FYS need NOT be in their area of your advisee’s major or professional aspiration:  they are about big questions, challenging readings, thought-provoking experiences, and great discussions.
    • Your advisee chose an additional three courses with two alternates. There is not a one to one match on primary and alternate classes. Instead, the student picks five courses, any three of which would, in combination with one of the three FYS courses, provide a satisfactory schedule.

Course load:

  • 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 from 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 weekthe 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 curriculumstudents should take courses in a variety of disciplines during 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 in addition to their FYS 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.
  • Many 200-level courses are open to first-year students.  They will say “open to first-year students, ” in the course description in the catalog and on Garnet Gateway. 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 organization  of high school classes that the class 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 proficiency in a second language.  Students who have such an ability will find it a boon in the job market of a globalized economy.  Half of Goldman, Sachs employees, for example, speak a second language and the firm actively recruits multi-lingual employees.  Students intending to pursue a career on Wall Street or any big business would be well advised to study a language while at Bates.
  • Poetry in a foreign language is inherently sexy.

The students continue their engagement (academic or not) with the arts:

  • A regret that seniors frequently have voiced is that they did not continue their instrument or choral groups or pottery or plays during their First-Year in college.  Students who put such pursuits on the shelf their first year often find it difficult to return to them later.
  • Encourage your advisees who are artistically inclined to join an orchestra or acapella group; try out for a play; sign up for a studio course.  Explain that these endeavors will renew their spirit for traditional academic studies.  Also, these activities are a great way to meet people when you start college.