The New College Academic Contract

An academic contract, which corresponds to one full-time semester of enrollment at New College, contains four sections: 1) educational activities, 2) short- and long-term goals, 3) descriptions of academic activities and activities outside of the academic contract, and 4) certification criteria. Goals may of course change over time. Rather than committing to activities or outcomes, contemplation of goals provides an opportunity to imagine the future, and to reflect on how educational choices lead to academic achievements.  Over time, successive contracts record new directions in thoughts and aspirations, and document the changes in a student’s intellectual and social development.

The student’s list of planned educational activities can include both semester-long (fourteen-week) and modular (seven-week) activities. Each New College full term course, tutorial, or Independent Reading Project is equivalent to one unit; one that is modular or module-equivalent is counts as a half unit.  At minimum, the student must enroll in, and remain enrolled in, at least three units throughout the semester. Enrollment within both module 1 and module 2 of the semester must remain at or above three units.

Only activities listed under educational activities, when completed and evaluated as satisfactory by the appropriate New College professors, appear on the official transcript. Educational activities may be courses, seminars, tutorials, labs, fieldwork, internships, special projects, and the like. For each activity for academic credit, a New College faculty member is listed and is responsible for submitting an evaluation of student work. All activities undertaken as tutorials require the instructor's initials on the contract.

The third section of the contract lists activities outside the formal curriculum, such as personal development projects or employment.  These activities do not appear on the transcript, and, while they may form an important part of the student’s experience and play an important role in the discussion with the contract sponsor, a faculty member does not evaluate these activities. This section may also be used to describe in more detail any educational activities listed in the second section.

The final section states the criteria for satisfactory completion of the contract, called "contract certification."  The certification criteria reflect an agreement between the student and sponsor as to what constitutes successful academic progress for a semester. These criteria usually involve a number of completed educational activities, but may include the completion of other projects as well, such as planning for the senior thesis or solving a specific academic problem.

The New College faculty member with whom a student develops the contract, and who signs it, is the contract sponsor. He or she serves as a mentor during the semester, helping the student integrate his or her experiences and respond effectively to academic challenges. Though the sponsor is often instructor for one or more of the student’s educational activities, this need not be the case.

The completed contract, with the appropriate signatures, must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by the eighth day of the semester (see Registration Part II). The Office of the Registrar processes the form and distributes copies of it to the student and to the Division of the contract sponsor.

Contract Renegotiation

After the student submits the contract to the Office of the Registrar, he or she may revise it in consultation with the sponsor, a process called “contract renegotiation.” Educational activities may be added or dropped, and the certification criteria changed. The sponsor must endorse the changes. The deadline for contract renegotiation is Friday of the twelfth week of the semester.

Semester Evaluations

At the end of each semester, the instructor for each of the contract's educational activities (listed for potential transcript entry) submits a narrative evaluation of each student’s performance to the Student Evaluation System (SES). In addition to providing details related to the student’s performance, this evaluation specifies whether or not that work is "Satisfactory," "Incomplete," or "Unsatisfactory."

Incompletes and the One-Year Rule

For work designated as “Incomplete,” a faculty member may specify a deadline for completion in the Student Evaluation System; the deadline must be on or before one year from the first day of the semester for which the contract was written.  If the faculty member makes no designation, educational activities that are “Incomplete” after one year from the first day of the semester for which the contract was written automatically become “Unsatisfactory.” For example, a course taken during fall 2011 and not completed becomes “Unsatisfactory” on the first day of classes of fall semester 2012. This practice applies to modular and full-term courses.

The deadline for the submission of semester evaluations by the faculty is Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. during the eighteenth week after the beginning of the semester.

Evaluations are internal communications between professors, students, and contract sponsors. They are not part of the official transcript, are not included with transcripts, and are never translated by the Registrar into grades. A student can download his or her evaluations and copy them as part of graduate and professional school applications, but the narrative evaluations do not have status as official transcripts, and cannot be given this status by the Office of the Registrar.

Contract Certification

The contract sponsor certifies the academic contract after evaluations have been submitted to the online Student Evaluation System. This is based on the certification criteria articulated in the contract. The deadline for contract certification is ten days after the beginning of the following semester. Like individual courses, contracts are certified as Satisfactory, Incomplete, or Unsatisfactory.

Office of the Provost
New College of Florida
5800 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota, Florida  34243

Phone: (941) 487-4200
Fax: (941) 487-4201