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- by  Abby Weingarten

A new path to learning awaits undergraduate students at New College this fall—a robust, customized educational experience that centers on real-world skill building.

Chart Your Course (CYC) is the College’s revamped curriculum for the liberal arts. This signature program is designed to serve as a foundation for students’ first years—inspiring them with intellectually challenging courses while preparing them for the job market.

“CYC courses give students clear opportunities to practice and reflect on their skill development across a range of subject areas,” said Liz Leininger, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurobiology. “As a result, students will know that they have the tools to pursue any number of paths at New College and beyond.”

With CYC, students have the opportunity to make their college course requirements work for them. They can create their own learning plan alongside a faculty adviser, developing a roadmap that is tailored to their interests and passions. For example, they might want to take a sociology class that will also teach them teamwork, or a chemistry class that will help them sharpen their writing skills.

There are 10 course requirements in total. Students will choose a course from each of the three divisions at New College (Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities), one writing or writing-enhanced course, one diverse perspectives course, one mathematics or statistics course, one course in civic literacy, and three electives.

No matter what students choose to study, they will come away with a broadly-based liberal arts and sciences education, and a variety of interdisciplinary skills. Students will then reflect on these skills and learn how they can be applied to a variety of careers.

“CYC focuses in on New College’s mission of supporting each student as they make their own decisions about the intellectual path that is right for them,” said Carrie Benes, Ph.D., a professor of medieval and Renaissance history. “Instead of a one-size-fits-all list of ‘gen ed’ requirements, CYC gives students a map and a compass to chart their own path. The map is the breadth requirements that widen their perspective on the world, and the compass is the skills they develop that will help them get where they want to go.”

SET SAIL first-year seminars are an integral part of this process. These semester-long classes (taught by a team of instructors and peer leaders) help students get their feet wet in their new home, and every first-year student can choose one SET SAIL course to fulfill a CYC requirement.

Some of the first-year seminars this fall include “Mathematical Thinking: Patterns, Puzzles and Exploration,” “Exploring Science,” “Role-Playing Politics and Religion in the Renaissance,” “Introductory Psychology: Motivated Minds Learning In and Out of School,” “Music and Creative Practice,” and “Writing About Writing.”

“SET SAIL is a special opportunity for our first-year students,” Leininger said. “It’s a dedicated place in our academic program where students will build community with their professors and peers, connect with many of our campus resources, and begin their inquiry into what a New College education can offer them over the next four years and beyond.”

By the time the first-year seminar is complete—whether it’s in math, science, music, writing or history—students will come away with problem-solving, creative-thinking and career-building prowess that will serve them every year of their New College experience and beyond. Plus, they will meet plenty of likeminded peers along the journey.

The ultimate goal of CYC and SET SAIL is to provide a holistic, well-rounded experience for students as they work toward their academic and future ambitions.

“The enduring value of a New College education is not just the subject-matter expertise our students develop, but also their honing of lifelong transferable academic skills and habits of mind,” Leininger said. “These sorts of skills include, but are not limited to, skills like communicating clearly and persuasively, thinking critically, solving complex problems, making decisions ethically, and demonstrating intercultural competence and global awareness.”

For more information on CYC and current curriculum requirements, click here.

For more information on SET SAIL, visit