The New College Academic Contract
An academic contract, which corresponds to one full-time semester of enrollment at New College, contains four sections: 1) short- and long-term goals, 2) educational activities, 3) descriptions of academic activities and activities outside of the academic contract, and 4) certification criteria. In the first section, the student lists long- and short-term academic goals. 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 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 the sponsor.
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.
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."