The First Year

Welcome to Pitzer College! There is a lot of freedom at Pitzer. But this means it is really important for you to make good decisions, and good decisions depend on good information. Your academic adviser is here to help provide good information. When they don’t know the answer to your questions, they will know how to find the answers.

  1. Campus-April_2014_e_31_720x480_72_RGBGet to know your academic adviser and your professors. Invite them to join you for lunch at McConnell Dining Hall during the semester. They will eventually be writing letters of recommendation for you. They will be able to write much stronger letters if they know you well.
  2. Get to know the academic calendar and important deadlines. In September (February), know the deadlines to add classes and finalize your schedules. In October (March), follow up on any low grade notices and pay attention to the deadline to drop classes. In November (April) you pre-register for next semester. And in December (May), know the deadline to withdraw from classes and your final exam schedule. Frequently monitor your Pitzer email since all official communications will go there.
  3. Try to complete half of your general education requirements before the end of your first year. The requirements include two humanities courses, two social science courses, one quantative reasoning class and one science class. You should also take some introductory courses in areas of a possible major. You can focus on your major requirements and other areas of interest during your last two years at Pitzer. Too many spring semester seniors are trying to complete one last general education requirement.
  4. Get yourself to the Career Services Office during the Fall semester. They will help you learn to better understand your own interests, skills, values, and personality type. You should start developing your resume. You should explore and apply for summer jobs and internships by winter break. The Career Services counselors will help you do all this.
  5. Get out into the community. The Community Engagement Center (CEC) and the CASA Program support Pitzer faculty, students, staff and community partners in forwarding social responsibility and community engagement in the surrounding communities through research, service, advocacy, and action. Go see them in Scott Hall.
  6. Get involved in campus activities. Clubs. PAct. Student Senate. Varsity sports. You may want to focus on your academics during the Fall semester. But by the Spring semester you should get involved in campus activities. This will help you meet other students with similar interests, learn new skills, and help you feel more connected.
  7. Think about applying for fellowships which target first year students. You might consider the Boren Scholarship, Congress-Budestag Youth Exchange, Critical Language Scholarship Program, Kemper Scholarship, and/or Fulbright Commission: Summer Institutes. There are also lots of summer fellowships. Sandy Hamilton in Fletcher 204 can help you here. You may not get the first fellowship you apply for. But keep practicing, and you will get better at it.
  8. If you are struggling in your classes, there are a lot of academic support resources available on campus. If you are having academic difficulties, try to understand the nature of the difficulties. Talk with your professor, go to office hours, go to tutoring sessions, arrange study groups, share class notes with other students, and talk with academic support personnel in the Office of Student Affairs. In college, you are responsible for seeking and setting up your own accommodations as needed – and the Office of Student Affairs is there to help you with this process. We run various workshops on time management, relaxation techniques, note taking skills, etc.
  9. What are your summer plans? Summer jobs, summer internships, summer research projects, summer fellowships. By late in the Fall semester, you should be making your summer plans. Doing something productive over the summer is more important than what you do after your first year at Pitzer. The Career Services Office is there to help you.
  10. Do you want to study abroad while at Pitzer? If you are interested in going abroad twice, it is critical for you to start the paperwork in September. Go to the Study Abroad Office.
  11. Start thinking about a major and/or a career. But don’t feel pressured to make a hasty decision. Take the time to really discover who you are, what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, and what you want to be. Take your time and enjoy exploring your options.
  12. If you think you might major in a STEM field, seek out a STEM advisor sooner rather than later, as there are required classes that are sequential and you’ll want to be sure to take what is needed in the right order.
  13. If you are playing on one of our athletic teams, you may find juggling courses, practice, games, labs, etc. a challenge. Be sure to keep lines of communications open and frequent with your professors and coaches about your schedule.