Back to School Means Back to Thinking…About A Lot

by Steve Viveiros, Dean of Advising and Academic Success

It may feel like summer for the next few weeks, but, soon enough, your student will crack open their books, attend classes, meet with faculty, and fully immerse themselves into the Wheaton College experience.

For first-year students, welcome to the next four years of learning, growing and achieving beyond your expectations. At New Student Orientation, students personally connect with their Preceptors, who serve as peer advisors for the entire first year. They work together as an advising team, made up of a student’s First-Year Seminar Faculty and Student Success Advisor (FYS). These guides work together to fully support the transition to Wheaton, with a particular focus on academic life. At New Student Orientation, students will have an individual meeting with their First-Year Seminar Faculty. Through the first-year seminar, students complete the coursework but also develop a relationship with their faculty advisor.

How can we help your student achieve academic success? As a team, our focus is to create a space for learning and success that meets the unique needs of each student. We recommend that students start with a solid plan. Student Success Advisors and Preceptors can assist with time management and semester planning.

Meeting with faculty during office hours is also critical. Encourage your student to get to know their faculty, who are the best resources for navigating the challenges that students face with their own courses. For students who want additional support, tutoring is available in the Filene Center. We are open from 4:30 pm to midnight on Sunday through Thursday, with designated hours of tutoring based on the subject. Your student should consider tutoring right at the start of the semester and build this time into their weekly plan to ensure success.

Generally, students find a study space on campus that works best for them as they create a routine. The semester is like a marathon, and we recommend students maintain a steady pace throughout. A solid routine will ensure that they keep up with their work. We know that there are some hurdles along the way. If challenges arise, have your student seek out their FYS Advisor or Preceptor. They should know that their Student Success Advisor in the Filene Center is always available to assist them.

We encourage upper-class students to push themselves and think about additional connections and experiences that will support their success. For some, it will be deciding a major, thinking about study abroad, planning for that internship, or considering a fellowship after they graduate.  Faculty Advisors, along with the Student Success Advisors in Academic Advising, are valuable resources for discussing, planning, and guiding your students in making their goals a reality.

Co-Curricular Engagement

by Ed Burnett, Associate Dean for Campus Life

Thriving at Wheaton goes beyond the classroom. We want our students to take advantage of co-curricular programming, as these rich and varied programs build connections and create positive experiences that support success. Academic goals cannot be undervalued, but it’s those students who pursue opportunities for personal development that truly get the most value from their time at Wheaton.

A new developmental program this year is the Lyons Leadership Institute. This is a cohort-based, semester-long, personal leadership development series that is ideal for both new students and returning students who haven’t yet found their niche. Students will be invited by self-nomination or by the nomination of a member of the faculty, a staff member, or a student leader. The first 50 students to register will be invited to participate in the Fall cohort. Any additional registrants will be invited to be part of the Spring cohort.

We’re also very excited to open our new residence hall, Pine Hall. This facility was designed to bring students together through ample shared spaces. This includes Conger Commons—a large, multi-purpose space that all students on campus will be able to enjoy. Pine Hall will be the first residence hall built to the Passive House standard for construction, which means that it will be 70% more efficient than today’s code requirements. It will also be home to a brand new Wheaton Wellness Program, modeled after successful programs across the country. Students have applied to be a part of this community and will explore how seven different dimensions of wellness contribute to overall well-being.

An underappreciated benefit of this time at Wheaton is how students can experience independence in a small, structured, and supportive community. As a parent, encouraging your student to explore new things, to self-advocate, and to seek assistance is invaluable. For some students, understanding what co-curricular resources are available and also the value this engagement will bring, can make a significant impact on their Wheaton experience.