Orientation & the First Year at Castleton
With more than 75 programs of study to choose from, you may feel overwhelmed and excited by all the possibilities.
Certainly, guidance counselors and teachers have assured you that it is okay if you have not decided on a major. The good news is they are right! You do not have to have a clear vision of what major you want, or which career you want. Now is the time to explore and discover new interests. In fact, you do not have to declare your major until you have earned 60 credits, the end of your sophomore year. Perhaps you are wondering how to get started, and how or when the moment will happen when you go from being undecided to declared in a certain major? The best way to answer that is for you to understand some of the General Education requirements at Castleton and some of the programs designed specifically to make you a successful student.
"Connections" General Education Requirements
All Castleton students are required to complete General Education requirements. Castleton’s general education program is called “Connections,” and includes courses such as English Composition, Effective Speaking, a computing course, and courses in the Areas of Understanding. Students must also complete writing-intensive courses and a speaking intensive course. These courses provide you with a foundation for success in future studies.
Bachelor’s degree candidates are required to complete 120 credits to graduate. In addition to specific major program requirements, all Castleton students must pass general education requirements totaling 40 credits.
Connections Seminar 1
During your first semester at Castleton, all first-year students enroll in a Connections Seminar 1 course. Your instructor serves as your first-year academic advisor. This provides you with the opportunity to establish friendships with other students and good communication with your advisor. The Seminars are classes designed to introduce you to Castleton’s Connections program. In May you will receive course descriptions of Connections Seminar 1 options, and choose a seminar depending on your particular interests. In addition to the course, students participate weekly in the “Connections Hour,” a meeting where you learn more about campus resources and other issues facing you in this new community.
Your Connections Seminar 1 course will also introduce you to Castleton’s Soundings program. You will experience the richness of the liberal arts through lectures, plays, recitals, poetry readings, dance performances, and other campus-sponsored cultural and intellectual activities.
SOS: Student Orientation Staff
During New Student Registration you will first meet your Student Orientation Staff leader. The Student Orientation Staff leader serves as your peer mentor to help with the transition from high school to college life. The SOSO leader will also participate in the weekly “Connections Hour” in your Connections Seminar 1 course.
Areas of Understanding
You will pursue courses in a broad range of subjects. These will include Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Fine Arts and Aesthetics, and Cultural, Historical, and Philosophical courses.
Using the Undergraduate Catalog
The Undergraduate Catalog is your guide to academic programs at Castleton. Since these programs vary from major to major it is important that you consult the Catalog even if you are undecided. This will help ensure that the courses you take will fulfill requirements. Through careful planning, you can experience a variety of coursework while you keep on track toward your goal of declaring a major. Your Connections Seminar 1 instructor, who serves as your first-year academic advisor, can help you with this planning.
The Connections General Education Program will be detailed in the 2021-22 University Academic Catalog.
By the time you have earned 60 credits, usually the end of your sophomore year, you need to declare your major. Generally, a major requires a wealth of credits that support your area of academic interest. When you declare a major, you must follow requirements as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. Your advisor can help you plan your four years of study to ensure you complete all of the requirements.
A minor usually consists of 18-24 credit hours of coursework. Certain majors require minors, but you can also complete a minor in a separate area of interest through careful planning of your program requirements. Minors are sponsored by academic departments and allow you to gain knowledge in a secondary field of study.
To graduate from Castleton, you are required to complete 120 credit hours of coursework. This can be completed in four years of full-time study. Every student must complete General Education requirements and requirements for a major. Certain programs may have additional requirements such as minors. Usually, there is room for a student to take free electives, which are courses that are not a specific requirement for your program, but interest you.
Civic Engagement/ Service Learning
Community service offers a wonderful opportunity for you to discover your strengths and interests, and adds meaningful experiences. We sponsor many activities that can help connect you with important volunteer work in the community. Sometimes, these volunteer experiences help direct students toward an intended major and even a career.
Academic Support Center
The Academic Support Center is designed to help Castleton students succeed. Academic Support offers services such as writing and math clinics, tutoring both individually and in small groups for most classes, learning and study skills, disability services, and academic counseling. These services are free to Castleton students.