Following the welcome address, Academic Explorations hosted by each of the five schools allowed for a deeper dive into IC’s over 70 majors. Those still undecided about their area of study could hear about the Exploratory Program, which allows students to enter as undeclared before making a final decision about a major, a route taken by around a quarter of IC undergraduates.
At the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S) presentation in Emerson Suites, a panel of faculty outlined IC’s focus on experiential learning: the active, integrated classroom experience, and research opportunities. They reiterated Eversley Bradwell’s comments regarding the commitment to guiding students through their personal academic journey, including allowing the flexibility for making changes until they find the right fit. Several professors disclosed the pivots they had made as undergraduates and a junior ambassador—a writing major with a concentration in creative nonfiction—shared that they had switched their choice of study at least five times.
Flexibility also extends to interdisciplinary programs, which cross departmental—and even school—boundaries, pursuing the study of a specific issue through a constellation of courses that are drawn across the disciplines. Legal Studies, for example, draws on classes offered across H&S—especially in politics, philosophy/religion, and sociology—as well as in the professional schools.
Faculty spoke to the rewards of teaching in small classrooms rather than large lecture halls, allowing for lively, in-person discussions and the chance to really get to know students. Professor of Psychology Jeff Holmes described IC as “the perfect size. It's not so small the opportunities are limited, but it's not so big that people get lost.”
Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Kelley Sullivan relayed how one of her physics students who had been struggling with some mental health issues felt highly supported by his teachers and classmates. He’d been told in high school that faculty wouldn’t care about him in college, according to Sullivan.
“I was really disappointed that message is still going out because that is simply not true,” she said. “At a school like this, you will not only be noticed, you will be cared for in your classes.”
After the general H&S session, attendees could join small departmental breakouts and explore specific degree options. Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences Paula Turkon offered an overview of the program to a group of 12, taking them through the curriculum, outlining internship and study abroad opportunities, answering questions, and leading a tour of the facilities.
Sunny Sekhar was visiting IC for the second time with his father, having taken a campus tour in the summer. This time around he was interested in learning more about the course curriculum, taking a deeper dive into his degree of interest, and experiencing the department environment. He’d also arranged through the Office of Admission to meet with a current senior to hear more about the classroom experience.
“He gave me a good view of the class sizes and how the classes work,” said Sekhar.
The Scholarship and Financial Aid session in Emerson Suites, led by Meghan Fouracre ’02, assistant director of the Office of Student Financial Services, touched on scholarships, grants, loans, and financial aid, as well as the opportunity to work on campus.
Fouracre recommended families use the net price calculator to compare schools, check and double check to be sure their FAFSA is accurate, and get their student personally involved in the process.