Amazing research opportunities are common occurrences at New College and offer students real-world research experience from day one.
The academic contract is the core of the New College academic program. Students complete seven contracts prior to graduation in lieu of credit hours. With their faculty adviser, students create a written agreement each semester and set criteria for measuring success. Each contract must contain the equivalent of at least three full semester educational activities to be evaluated for transcript entry, both before and after contract renegotiation. A typical contract includes three to five academic activities (including courses, tutorials, internships or independent reading projects) that will develop a student’s personal educational goals. The contract is the product of focused dialogue between student and sponsor. Both can use this opportunity to discuss and articulate the student’s short- and long-term goals, and to monitor progress toward completion of the five chosen area of concentration and graduation requirements. From a bureaucratic standpoint, the timely submission of each contract is critical because it officially “registers” the student in courses and other activities. Although a contract can be renegotiated prior to the final two weeks of the semester, students may not change contract sponsors during the semester. 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.
The Senior Thesis Project is something that binds all New College students and graduates since every New College student produces one. That’s part of what it means to be an honors college: we have faith that every admitted student can and will develop a senior project, carry out the necessary research or work, and then present it to a committee (consisting of your faculty thesis sponsor and at least two other faculty readers) for an oral baccalaureate examination at the end of senior year. When you invest in New College, we invest in you.
Many Senior Projects are long, written research papers in your AOC (major) or a write-up of laboratory research you’ve conducted as part of a larger project with other students and even faculty. Some projects consist of a body of artwork and a senior show with a substantial written artist’s statement, while others might include a performance of a play by a famous playwright or a musical composition you wrote. That’s why it’s a “project” — it’s not only a written thesis. If you can win faculty support for your dream project, you can do it.
It’s helpful to remember that you don’t start with the thesis; it is the culmination of long-term work. By the time the project comes around, you will have built up the intellectual stamina required to complete the task.
During your first three years, you spend time getting to know your faculty and yourself, discovering passions and abilities you might not have realized you had. By the time you begin your third year at New College, you’ll be thinking about who you’d like to ask to be your thesis sponsor and about class or tutorial projects that you wish you could take further. You’ll know your own abilities, and you’ll be ready for the chance to really show what you can do now that you’re nearing graduation.
The final baccalaureate examination varies a bit in different disciplines, from a spirited defense of your work to a friendly conversation about where it could go next. The exam is your final chance to explain your work, what you’ve discovered and why it matters. A committee of at least three faculty members will focus just on you and your work for more than an hour. And when you graduate, you’ll have a project that you can use to springboard into your future, whether that includes graduate study, art-making, or moving into a profession right away.
In May, students can present their original research at New Scholars New College. These may include colorful poster presentations, musical performances, a student film or oral presentations that showcase your original, independent research. There is also an annual Senior Thesis Art Exhibit featuring a selection of artwork from the art students’ final year of studies, held either on campus or at a public gallery space in downtown Sarasota. Both New Scholars and the exhibit are wonderful opportunities to share your work with the general public.
A cornerstone of the New College experience is the Independent Study Project (ISP), which allows you to design and conduct your own hands-on research. During the four-week Interterm each January, you can focus on a specific aspect of your field of study, or explore something new through an immersive experience (whether that is a lab experiment, a scholarly paper or a creative endeavor). New College does not hold regular class meetings during January, so you can also use the time to study abroad (from Antarctica to the Amazon), take part in an off-campus internship, or create your own art exhibit or performance. Three ISPs are required for graduation.
The ISP requirement addresses five educational objectives:
A selection of recent ISPs include:
At New College, you’re surrounded by an intellectual community of students and professors who value your individuality and push you to discover your passions, pursue your ideals and form lifelong bonds.
Did you know that many large universities now require freshmen to take some classes from their computers because they simply don’t have large enough lecture halls for them all to attend in person? That will never happen at New College. Our average size class is 18, but most are much smaller, and some have only a handful of students working with a single professor.
With a 10-to-1 student/faculty ratio, you work closely with faculty, who serve as advisers, mentoring you along your academic journey. Intellectual conversations with fellow students often spill over to the Four Winds Café, Ham Center or other campus hangouts.
Learning at New College often extends beyond the classroom. Our undergraduates have access to cutting-edge research projects in the lab and the field:
New College students are passionate about helping others and making a difference. Locally, they build houses, tutor at-risk children and volunteer at food banks and homeless shelters. Others give back during Alternative Fall and Spring Break trips to rebuild homes of Hurricane Katrina victims or experience a migrant farm camp in Immokalee, Florida. And many Novo Collegians turn their civic engagement into their life’s work.