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Best Majors @ Wesleyan...

mistofolismistofolis Registered User Posts: 212 Junior Member
edited July 2008 in Wesleyan University
Soo which majors is Wesleyan well-known for?
Post edited by mistofolis on
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Replies to: Best Majors @ Wesleyan...

  • johnwesleyjohnwesley - Posts: 4,610 Senior Member
    I think if you start with the Film Dept, it may explain a lot about Wesleyan's academic reputation in general. It's both well-known and well-respected for a number of reasons. The first and foremost, is that it is grounded in the liberal arts. When it was started over thirty years ago, it was team taught by members of the English Dept., the Arts Dept., and the History Dept. Only an LAC with a significant overflow of talent and self-confidence could have undertaken such a risky and expensive venture as founding a brand new department, one not widely recognized as a legitimate subject of study, and found the money to house it in state-of-the-art facilities.

    So, as implied above, I would say English, and History certainly. Economics is right up there. Government is popular, too.

    Over in the sciences, pretty much all the Life Sciences bio, MBBC, plus neuroscience. Like most LACs, Wesleyan has a high med school placement rate.

    But, there's also Astronomy which for a small department seems to produce a lot of interesting research. The Van Vleck Observatory is a campus landmark.

    I mean, I could go through a long list of departments and find solid reasons why they would be considered either popular or distinguished. It would almost be simpler to ask which departments aren't wildly popular?
  • WeskidWeskid Registered User Posts: 1,288 Senior Member
    We're particularly known for Film. We're also known for having some of the strongest sciences amongst LACs, and for having strong theater, art studio and music (esp. for a non-conservatory/art school). We're known for a good East Asian studies department and for FGSS. We’re known to have a good English department.

    As johnwesley suggests, we're also fairly strong across the board in most "staple" subjects, even if we don't particularly stand out. That is, while we don't have the rep of Georgetown for IR, we do have a good gov. department; while we don't have the rep of UChicago, we have good econ, etc. I’m a Religion major, and while I don’t think it is a particularly wll known program at Wes, I love the department; every prof I’ve had so far is really great.

    We also have some Wes-unique majors, such as the College of Letters (combining philosophy, literature, history and languages) and the College of Social Studies (combining philosophy, government, history and econ) which are excellent and intense.
  • madjoymadjoy Registered User Posts: 625 Member
    The sciences at Wesleyan are VERY strong compared to other liberal arts colleges - especially bio, molecular bio & biochem, and chem.
  • krongmankrongman - Posts: 78 Junior Member
    Your question doesn't lend itself to an easy answer.

    1) If you meant to ask what you asked 100% literally, I would say "all of them", for the same reason that I would say all majors at Harvard are considered prestigious and all majors at my local community college are thought of as, well, not much. We are a well-known school, especially among progressive-leaning sectors of the American populace. We are neither an art school nor an Institute of Technology; we are instead a liberal-arts school, so I would say that in general all of our majors are equally well-regarded.

    2) Hyping the Film department is what it is. Let me say this: if you're an outside art student (present former or future), or supporting yourself in an 'artsy' profession (i.e. you produce documentaries for a living), you'd be impressed by a Wesleyan film studies degree.

    However, if you're neither of those things and are instead just a regular (educated) person from the outside, you will not have any idea exactly what "film studies" consist of. You will consequently fail to be unduly impressed by someone possessing that qualification. In fact if you're trying to get a "regular" job in, say, the government or corporate worlds, the fact that you majored in Film instead of, I dunno, Government or Economics or whatever is going to work against you.

    3) In the first section [(1)] I addressed your question literally; in the second [(2)] I responded to the other posters' unqualified, gushing adulation of the film department. Now I will give you my own personal take.

    Don't come here before you explore this school deeply first. Don't commit to going to any college without THOROUGHLY vetting it beforehand. This is a general statement; it does not reflect my particular distaste for Wesleyan.

    You will be best served by majoring in what interests you. If a department or area of study does this for you, you will be motivated to perform well in its classes, or at least you will be intellectually stimulated by the content within them. These two outcomes are both positive; the former will help you maintain a high GPA for grad school admissions/certain jobs (i.e. investment banking, which is incredibly competitive and whose hiring decisions are highly reliant on one's undergrad GPA), while the latter outcome will ensure that you did not waste the 4 years you will spend here. Hopefully you can knock out both at once, as I am currently doing.

    This will serve you best in the long run.

    Therefore, asking "ZOMG HALP GUYZ WUT MAJRS IZ WEZ NOEN 4??!??!111" is completely irrelevant, because if you pick a major that we're supposedly 'known for' and do crappily in it, you're screwed. You either weren't stimulated (in which case you just wasted $200 large) or you got crummy grades in it, or, finally and most likely, both. Say you came here and majored in film solely because niiice people on teh Intarweb told you we're 'known' for our film department. Assuming you neither enjoy it nor do well, you lose.

    Thus: come here and pick your major based on taking classes within it frosh year. Pick it based on whether you like it or not, not whether we're 'known' (whatever that means) for it, and you will not only have an enjoyable academic experience, chances are you will have a high GPA, which will serve you well in both grad school admissions as well as finding employment in this bear labor market, which I can only guess was the ultimate purpose behind your asking your original question.

    Good luck!
  • mistofolismistofolis Registered User Posts: 212 Junior Member
    haha thanks for your eager responses.
    The purpose of my question (it was rather late at night... or shall i say very early in the morning) was to see if there are few majors that a lot of people consistantly bring up as the best courses to take in Wesleyan. I was searching for a general idea. If I were to do film major, I would much prefer applying to Wesleyan rather than to (for example) Oxford.
  • mistofolismistofolis Registered User Posts: 212 Junior Member
    ps: krongman, i spent probably a minute decoding what "ZOMG HALP GUYZ WUT MAJRS IZ WEZ NOEN 4??!??!111" actually read.
  • twomoretwomore Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    Is it true you have to declare College of Letters or College of Social Studies majors as a freshman? Is it hard to make that kind of decision so early?
  • WeskidWeskid Registered User Posts: 1,288 Senior Member
    twomore: It is true (though I suppose you could drop out/switch majors sophmore year if you don't like it after a semester). I suppose it is hard, but most people who decide to do it seem really happy about it.
  • sf606508sf606508 Registered User Posts: 131 Junior Member
    I was under the impression that Economics at Wesleyan is particularly quantitatively-focused?

    I am also interested in History, but the Wesleyan course catalogue seemed to indicate a dearth of some fairly important History courses on the European History front (i.e. pre-Modern, etc), which is essential for any History concentration. On the other hand, Classical History seemed to be extensively stocked.
  • johnwesleyjohnwesley - Posts: 4,610 Senior Member
    HIST118-01 - Baroque Rome
    HIST153-01 - Enlightenment Concept of the Self (sophomore seminar)
    HIST167-01 - The Reformation In Britain (sophomore seminar)
    HIST177-01 - Life Science, Art, and Culture, Medieval to Present (sophomore seminar)
    HIST189-01 - Political Ideals & Social Realities of Renaissance Italy
    HIST201-01- Medieval Europe
    HIST228-01 - The Rise & Fall of the Ottoman Empire
    HIST246-01 - Culture & Society in Renaissance Italy
    HIST261-01 - Protestantism: From The Reformation to the Religious Right
    HIST211-01 - The Making of Britain 400-1763
  • madjoymadjoy Registered User Posts: 625 Member
    Econ, like pretty much every major at Wes except the hard sciences, tends to be theory-heavy, not application-heavy. This trend of focusing on theory is broad-ranging, and applies to everything from Econ to Math to Sociology to Film. While there's definitely a good deal of hands-on work (you can take a class in Econometrics and you can do your own film-making, and a lot of people do), these are usually electives within the major, not required.

    As for COL and CSS, from what I can tell, most people who want to do either of them pretty much know by the end of their freshman year, and are fairly passionate about the major. I don't know anyone who wishes they had been a COL or CSS major and feels they missed their chance.
  • krongmankrongman - Posts: 78 Junior Member
    Of the three 200-level history classes I took last year, all were on the pre-modern era, and two were excellent. These were Medieval Europe (fantastic), History of Islamic Civilization to 1566 (really awesome), and Early Modern Europe (passably decent but not great). Islamic Civ is not offered in 08-09, but the other two are. If I was you I would take Medieval Euro with Gary Shaw in the fall, because he is a F-ing bawse. He was the coolest professor I had all year, and even though medieval European history isn't always that stimulating, I thoroughly enjoyed the class. I don't know if everyone liked him as much as I did, but my classmates that I talked to at the time seemed to, so...

    You are actually spoiled for choice in European history in the fall, but I guess you have a point if you were trying to call attention to the lack of classes on Asian/Latin American history (I don't know where you were going with the whole "pre-Modern" thing). If indeed that was your intention, then you're right. I noticed the same thing. But you know what? That's one of the drawbacks of going to a small liberal arts school. They don't offer a 100% geographically- and chronologically-balanced portfolio of classes every semester or even year. And you're absolutely right, it blows.

    So my advice is, either make do and choose a history class from the selection available, or just wait until next semester/year. Take interesting classes from other disciplines/fields instead, i.e. film or english or russian lit or bio or I don't even know, and just wait until the next registration period comes around and the exact history classes you want are offered. In the meantime, explore!

    PS

    If by "Pre-Modern" you mean like, WAY old, as in, say, 5000 or 10000 years ago...Those courses are probably located in anthropology or archeology course clusters.

    ANTH204-01 Introduction to Archaeology
    ANTH202-01 Paleoanthropology: The Study of Human Evolution
    ANTH250-01 Foragers to Farmers: Hunting and Gathering and the Development of Agriculture

    Hope that is helpful. Everyone stresses over their courses, so don't worry too much, but make sure to choose carefully or else you could end up stuck in a bunch of classes that you don't enjoy. That is a miserable experience, let me tell you.
  • krongmankrongman - Posts: 78 Junior Member
    Whoops. Guess I forgot you were interested primarily in European history.
  • WeskidWeskid Registered User Posts: 1,288 Senior Member
    And we do have a Medieval studies concentration, if that is an era you're interested in. I'd assume most of those classes would be crosslisted as history, but it would be worth clicking on the course cluster to see exactly what is offered there.
  • sf606508sf606508 Registered User Posts: 131 Junior Member
    thank you, krongman. advice much appreciated.

    Well, you seemed to indicate that I have little to worry about if my primary concern was European (and Classical) History. It indeed is. I referred mainly to the likes of Peace of Westphalia and Congress of Berlin and Trafalgar and so forth with "Pre-Modern", i.e., before the Great War. Sorry if it was confusing.

    And by the way, tell me a bit about the French and Latin courses. I am interested in both, and would in fact be quite anxious to have a very good command of French, as I have studied it for a long time and would not want it to go down the drain, so to speak, during college. As for Latin, I have not taken it before.

    As well, I noticed there to be a couple Bible courses, one on the Old Testament offered by a rabbi, and another on the New Testament. I would probably take one of the two during my first year.
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