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.

SOS Group walking in between events

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.

First-Year Seminar

During your first semester at Castleton, all first-year students enroll in a First-Year Seminar (FYS). Your instructor serves as your first-year student advisor. This provides you with the opportunity to establish friendships with other students, and good communication with your advisor. The Seminars are classes used to fulfill a General Education Requirement. In May you will receive course descriptions of First-Year Seminar options, and choose a seminar depending on your particular interests. In addition to the course, students participate weekly in the Common Hour, a meeting where you learn more about campus resources and other issues facing you in this new community.


During your time at Castleton you will take three Soundings courses (total of 2 credits). From the 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. Soundings I requires you to attend six events in your first semester and complete other course requirements including brief written reaction pieces to the events.

General Degree Requirements

All students are required to complete General Degree Requirements which include courses such as English Composition, Effective Speaking, a computer course, a literature course, Soundings, and Frames of Reference Requirements. Students must also complete writing intensive courses and a speaking intensive course. These courses provide you with a foundation for success in future studies.

The Four Frames of References

Aesthetic Understanding and Activities; Scientific and Mathematical Understanding; World Views: Cultural, Historical, Philosophical; and Social and Behavioral Understanding allow you to choose from a wide variety of options and explore areas that interest you. In total, the General Education Requirements will equal 42 credits or a little less than three semesters of full-time work. Typically, students do not complete the requirements in sequence and usually spread the requirements out for the full four years while also completing major requirements and free electives.

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 to 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 First-Year Advisor can help you with this planning.


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 30 to 48 credit hours of work. When you declare a major, you must follow requirements as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. 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.

Education Licensure Programs

If you are considering becoming a teacher, you should be familiar with the program requirements for licensure. There are many specific courses that you must complete to be recommended for licensure. In addition to a liberal arts or science major you must also complete 42-44 credits of education requirements. This means that you need to carefully plan your four years of study to ensure you complete all of the requirements.

Free Electives

To graduate from Castleton, you are required to complete 122 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 more meaning to your life and others. 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.

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 SOS leader will also participate in the Common Hour that meets weekly.

General Education and Liberal Arts Core Requirements (42 credits)

Bachelor’s degree candidates are required to complete 122 credits to graduate. In addition to specific program requirements, all Castleton students must pass a writing proficiency requirement and a general education and liberal arts core requirement totaling 42 credits.