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Working on my independent study readings at Mon Vert Cafe in Woodstock, VT!

What is an independent study? Good question! Up until my senior year, I was so interested and intrigued by this term "independent study." It seemed that many of my friends were working on projects in topics they were interested in with the help of a professor. It wasn't until fellow blogger, Catherine, and I took "Cultural Analytics" last term (you can read more about it here) that the possibility of doing an independent study came to life.

In our final project, Catherine and I explored religious sentiment in texts from the English Reformation. We realized while working on this project, not only was there a lot more information and data to explore, but that we were passionate about this topic. Catherine and I met with our professor to talk about the possibility of continuing our project through the next term.

We learned that we could receive credit for our independent study, and that it would count as one of our classes for the winter term. We were hooked! Our professor worked with us to create our own syllabus. I enjoyed this part of the process because it gave us an insight into what professors go through every term when they are planning a class. Catherine and I suggested some readings we were interested in and our professor supplied some other resources.

Each week, Catherine and I are responsible for doing the readings and making progress on our project. We meet on Wednesday afternoons with our professor for about an hour. During this time, we discuss the readings, our projects and ask A LOT of questions about the field we are exploring. At the end of the term, we are hoping to present our completed project to members of the Religion, English and Computer Science departments.  

Would I recommend an independent study? 100 percent! If you have any interest in a topic that you learned about through a class or are passionate about, an independent study gives you the opportunity to delve deeper. Being able to work one-on-one or in a small group with a professor is just another one of the things that makes Dartmouth unique. Stay tuned for more independent study updates throughout the term – I know I'm excited to see where this goes!

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