An education as individualized as you are
Our innovative academic program encourages out-of-the-box thinking and the love of learning for a lifetime. New College graduates are prepared for the ever-changing 21st-century global workplace and the academic rigor of graduate and professional schools.
It all starts with the contract.
Students complete seven contracts prior to graduation in lieu of credit hours. With your faculty adviser, you create a written agreement each semester and set criteria for measuring your success. Each contract usually includes three to five academic activities (courses, tutorials, internships, independent reading projects) that will develop your personal educational goals. You also meet regularly with your faculty adviser to discuss your progress — not just once or twice in four years as happens at many colleges.
No grades? No problem!
Professors at New College provide narrative evaluations instead of grades for each course or project you complete. That's because we believe that detailed feedback on your individual strengths and weaknesses — as well as suggestions for improvement and further study — are much more valuable than a mere letter grade. Through this process, faculty get to know students very well and are able to provide you with useful, informative feedback on your studies. Faculty can really look at your work holistically, rather than assigning an arbitrary grade that doesn't tell the whole story.
Does the absence of grades impede entry to graduate school or your ability to get a job? Not at all! Narrative evaluations actually allow faculty to write strong, detailed recommendation letters for graduate school applications, scholarships and employment. About 80 percent of New College alumni go on to graduate school within six years of graduating. For the 2010 graduating class, 86 percent of graduates who applied to a Ph.D. program were accepted, and 100 percent who applied to law school got in. It's no wonder that The Wall Street Journal ranked New College the nation’s No. 2 public feeder school for elite law, medical and business schools.
Here's another plus: narrative evaluations promote a noncompetitive learning environment with no fretting about your GPA and how you rank against your peers. Instead, you focus on the ways you can improve and develop the knowledge, experience, and critical and analytic thinking skills needed in the real world. The absence of grades may seem scary at first, but we assure you that it is a very easy adjustment, with lots of long-term benefits.
Independent Study and Hands-On Research
A cornerstone of the New College experience is your ability to work with faculty to design your own independent study and conduct hands-on research. During the four-week Interterm each January, you work one-on-one with your professor or in a small group on a research project, lab experiment or scholarly paper. Or, you can use this time to study abroad — from Antarctica to the Amazon — take part in an off-campus internship or even put together your own art exhibit or performance. The ISP Handbook and the workshop held in November of each year provide guidance to students as to the types of ISPs that faculty encourage. Projects may be carefully defined at the beginning or left open-ended and exploratory. Three ISPs are required for graduation.
The Senior Thesis
With the support of a faculty thesis adviser, you research, write and/or produce a substantial, original work in your major during your final two semesters at New College. Written thesis projects are bound and archived in the Jane Bancroft Cook Library.