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Schools Consider The Value Of Individualized Study

First Posted: 09/17/10 09:35 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:40 PM ET

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More and more institutions are turning toward individualized majors as a different way to promote the well-rounded ethos of requirement-heavy schools.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Drexel University, Indiana University and others have found that offering the option of building a major has not only attracted students, but may allow them a better chance of finding work after graduation.

As Trudy G. Steinfeld of New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study told the Chronicle: "If you have a company or nonprofit, you are looking for employees who have an interesting collection of skills and who can shift gears quickly between tasks, and individualized majors often fit the bill."

For some, like Drexel provost Mark L. Greenberg, inter-disciplinary majors are the way of the future. "I think that the world is moving toward a realization that the big problems that humanity faces are not solvable from any particular discipline. Those who seek answers that cut across traditional boundaries are going to be the people that come up with the solutions," he said to the Chronicle.

Other schools known for their loose curricula are tightening their academic bolts. Although it does not plan on ditching its flexible curricula, Brown, long-heralded as the freest of the Ivies, may be rebranding its reputation by more clearly outlining for students its educational mission. President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities Carol Greary Schneider told Inside Higher Ed that Brown is "moving to provide an explicit statement and in plain English of what liberal education can be for their students."

According to college dean Katherine Bergeron, this is not a movement away from Brown's commitment to curricular freedom, but rather an opportunity for the university to offer students guidance and help them take advantage of their opportunities.

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Filed by Danielle Wiener-Bronner  |