A structured curriculum has the backbone of education the dawn of time. youth Inc tells you about programmes that allow students to chart the path of their education from scratch
DEGREE OR DIPLOMA?
Universities offer self-designed programmes as Bachelor and Master degrees. Some universities such as University of Connecticut (USA) also offer professional certificates. Their programme is designed to suit a mid-career professional’s needs and it includes seminars, workshops and one-on-one meetings with leaders in the student’s field of interest. Many corporates have tied up with the university to help its employees expand their knowledge base whilst earning a certificate for the programme.
A GUIDE TO SELF-DESIGNED MAJORS
What is a self-designed major?
Essentially, a self-designed major gives the reigns of responsibility in the hands of the students. There is no fixed structure to the programme or lesson plan to be followed. The students are responsible for designing their curriculum and choosing their areas of concentration and charting a plan along with an academic advisor.
Are there any core course requirements?
Yes, there are some core requirements and courses that have to be taken by the student. These will establish a foundational base for the students. Every university has different requirements which can be checked on their respective websites. For example, at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, courses such as Introduction to Writing, seminars on research methodology, etc help students present their projects and final assignments which are an integral part of such a programme, as no two students have the same major.
Any additional requirements?
* Students have to find academic professors and advisers who are willing to guide them throughout the programme.
* Students have to present their ideas and reasons, with a drafted plan of the curriculum and the approach to be followed, in front of a committee who will decide whether the student should be allowed into the programme.
Who is it meant for?
* Most students who complete such a programme are highly motivated, independent self-starters in need of a challenge. They are creative and disciplined – qualities that are a must because designing one’s major takes a lot of effort. Sales skill for selling themselves and their major are also required. At most universities, students must persuade at least one professor to sponsor and advise them. They must tie their major to a specific field of work or future study. Most are required to produce a weighty final project or paper.
* Ohio State University’s website states that the programme is ideal for students interested in exploring ‘diversity’ issues and other concerns of contemporary social, political, artistic, and scientific relevance. Ohio State offers a wide array of courses taught from various intellectual perspectives, which often complement and enrich one another. This multiplicity and depth is not always readily available in the structure of a traditional major.
What are the benefits?
* Academically, students can pursue multiple interests and integrate them to achieve holistic development. For example, a student interested in politics and environment can combine the two to design a unique major to study, while at the same time weeding out courses that would not help in achieving his/her goals.
* On the career front, employers seek to get maximum bang for their buck and hence seek employees with diverse skill sets. Such majors display creativity, determination and motivation in the students.
Who shouldn’t pursue such courses?
Students who want to work in a field that requires licensing such as medicine, teaching and engineering, as the licensing requirements include core courses that cannot be omitted. Such programs are ideal for students looking to pursue humanities and liberal arts as these subjects allow for greater leeway and customisation.
Why don’t all universities offer this?
* Some universities do not allow individualised majors in the belief that faculty and other scholastic experts are best equipped to know what students need to learn, and that traditional majors are based on decades of sound research.
* Individualised major programmes place greater pressure on professors who must advise the students, draining faculty time and resources during an era of tighter budgets.
* Parents are scared that students will use their hard-earned money on majors that will not be marketable in the real world.
* Some employers may also be wary of hiring graduates since it is not easy to determine, on first glance, whether the student has picked up the skills required for the job.
WHICH UNIVERSITIES OFFER SUCH PROGRAMS?
Over 900 universities offer such programmes throughout the world. Some of the prominent ones are:
• New York University, USA
• University of Connecticut, USA
• University of Massachusetts, USA
• Utrecht University, Netherlands
• Ohio State University, USA
Volume 3 Issue 6