Tips from Campus Experts

The Office of Academic Affairs reached out to some campus subject-area experts for their general or specific academic advice for fall-term first-years. Here are their tips!

From a humanities-Area dean
  • Take as many courses as possible in which discussion is a central practice (while there are many ways to get information after college, there are not many ways to create meaningful discussion led by experts).
  • Subjects are important, but assignments will fill your days. Look at the kinds of assignments listed on a syllabus and ask yourself if you think they will advance your abilities.
  • Don’t make your schedule an obstacle course. Design days with balance and breathing room so you can absorb what happens in class and pursue avenues of personal research that emerge from the questions, readings, and conversations from a class.
From a language-area dean
  • Take the opportunity to explore a language that might be especially meaningful to you on a personal or academic level or that might align with your future career goals. (Also keep in mind that Yale offers nearly two dozen less-commonly-taught languages through the Shared Course Initiative, taught at partner institutions, and these courses may be used to fulfill the language requirement and towards Yale credit.)
  • Take advantage of the free peer language tutoring that is available through the Center for Language Study to all Yale students enrolled in a language course. It provides an opportunity to practice your language skills and stay connected with your peers at Yale. 
From a STEM-area dean
  • Take no more than 4 credits in your fall semester.
  • Selecting courses should be exciting. Remember, you cannot make a “mistake” picking a “wrong” class.
  • Take a first-year seminar in the fall or the spring: these courses are designed for you, so take advantage of the opportunity.
From a writing-area dean
  • Choose at least one course that is designed to make you work collaboratively, such as ENGL 114-120; Directed Studies, or a language course. These are all courses where the instructors or the programs compel at least some academic collaboration, of a kind that is easier to extend outside of class, thus making the experience of learning feel less isolating.
  • Work harder than usual to find study or conversation partners from within your courses. Since study groups or conversation partnerships will form less easily in a remote setting, some advisers will be coaching their first-years advisees to practice overtures like, “Hey, can we talk about next week’s reading sometime before Tuesday’s class? I notice that it always makes more sense to me if I’ve practiced talking about it beforehand,” or “Have you thought about your paper topic yet? I think it would help to try talking out some of my ideas before I start.” In other words, look to find someone in your courses as an ongoing learning partner.