The first time a prospective student sets foot on The College of Wooster’s campus, he or she are told about the Independent Study program, walked through Gault library to look at the carrels and explained the importance of the Tootsie Roll to seniors. Even if someone has never visited campus, anyone who has seen the College’s website is immediately greeted by four videos of seniors describing their Independent Studies. With so much emphasis placed on I.S., seniors put all of their focus into this project, and are left with little time to concentrate on post-grad plans.
A student’s entire career at Wooster is spent preparing for I.S.. The College’s website even states that “I.S. really is the heart and soul of a Wooster education, affecting everything from how professors teach introductory classes to why students are exposed to research opportunities as early as the second semester of their first year.” With First Year Seminar, writing intensive classes and Junior Independent Study, the curriculum at Wooster is structured to prepare students to be able to complete the year-long capstone project that awaits them.† For a college that has included the I.S. program in its curriculum for over 60 years, Wooster has no problem preparing students for this endeavor.
Although I.S. is usually considered to be the most important part of Wooster students’ college careers, as well as one of their biggest accomplishments, I wish that the College structured the curriculum more around life after I.S. Monday. As a college community we always preach to get involved, but after taking that advice, by senior year students are members or leaders of several groups and hold on-campus jobs.† Pile on the deadlines, weekly meetings and routine all-nighters of I.S., and they’re lucky if their laundry gets done, let alone job applications.
It is not that the College lacks the resources to help students prepare for their future.† The Career Service Center at the College does hold informational sessions, resume clinics and job fairs.† The Gault Alumni Center can connect students with alumni in their area who work in a specific field.† However when seniors survive one chapter at a time, they may not take advantage of these opportunities as early as they could have. The problem is that Wooster places so much emphasis on I.S. that it becomes the student’s only priority.
If the College’s main goal is to get students ready for the real world, they should do more to promote the services that Wooster has to offer.† Obviously, this isn’t high school ó seniors don’t need guidance counselors.† But by intertwining the Independent Study program with career planning and creating a new tradition, the College would help students learn how they can utilize their I.S. in their job or graduate school hunt.† A few changes would alter the dynamic on campus, show that the College is becoming involved in helping seniors, and shift the focus from only I.S. to life beyond Wooster.
Hannah Diorio-Toth is a Viewpoints editor for the Voice. She can be reached for comment at HDiorio-Toth11@wooster.edu.