Independent Studies Engage Curiosity

Self-guided learning fosters intellectual independence

Noor Naseer, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Independent studies offer students a chance to dive deeper into subject matter that they find interesting in a way that allows them to design their own lessons, pace themselves, and follow wherever their interests take them. 

Clare Wagner ’22 is currently pursuing an independent study about archaeology. She shares that “It’s just something I’m passionate about and I want to go into later in life, and I’d taken a class on it already, but I just wanted to take another class, so I made my own.”

Annabelle Swigert ’22 will do her independent study, entitled “The Evolutions and Exclusions of the Feminist Movement,” next semester. 

Like Wagner, Swigert says that “A huge part of my identity is my feminism and I do a lot of work…with Planned Parenthood…If I’m already studying about these things for fun, I thought I might as well get credit for it and have some sort of final product.”

For Swigert, this final project will be a 12-15 page research paper. On the other hand, Wagner’s lessons center around variety; she shares, “I like to switch it up, like do some readings and some going to a museum and presentations and some papers.” Additionally, both Swigert and Wagner have faculty advisors who help them stay on track. Swigert shares, “Setting deadlines for yourself I found was huge because you have a faculty advisor, but you’re monitoring your own work, and you’re going to get out of it what you put into it… Mr. Zalk [will] help me meet those deadlines.” Despite the significant time commitment an independent study is—it replaces a class—the freedom to follow one’s passions makes the process more fun. 

According to Wagner, “It does help that it’s something that I’m passionate about, so it’s like books that I’m reading for fun on it, and stuff like that, I can just turn that into work.”