It’s mid-September, and classes are in full swing. For those returning, fall is a time to reconnect with friends and get back into the habits of college life. For new faces, it can be a little more complicated.
First-year students confront many challenges and changes individually and collectively. For those at Ithaca College, one of these adjustments is the new Integrative Core Curriculum, a general education program that most of my high-student friends attending other schools will not have as part of their experiences.
We are the first 1,800 students at the college required to take a seminar class and “perspectives,” four different approved courses that relate to the themes under the ICC. Throughout the next four years, we must complete these 16 credits on top of fulfilling existing general education requirements in the social sciences, humanities, creative arts and natural sciences. These must all be taken on top of the classes needed for each individual major.
I have found that the ICC has some beneficial aspects. As a new student thrown into a world where it seems as if everyone knows everything about college except me, I find the ICC seminar will help ease the minds of many overwhelmed freshmen.
Each seminar meets three days a week. Two of the days are spent learning material pertaining to the subject of the theme, while the other day is only a 50-minute period of time called “Common Hour,” which is spent discussing and coping with the transition to college. Some of the topics covered include student activities, time management and note taking.
As a student in my first semester of college, I find this guidance incredibly helpful because of the relaxed atmosphere. The seminar makes it easy to communicate with peers and helps remind me that we’re all going through the same things.
But some aspects of the ICC are unhelpful and confusing. During “Common Hour,” we learn more about the required courses we have to take within our themes. But these perspectives can be very restrictive. Within my theme, “Inquiry, Imagination and Innovation,” there are only 20 approved courses out of hundreds offered at the college that I can choose from to complete my perspectives. Themes such as “Mind, Body and Spirit” only have 10 courses.
I’ve found that the themes are the most confusing part about the ICC. Though the college website lists approved perspectives, I’ve been given handouts in my seminar that list different required courses from the ones listed on the website. The different information on the perspectives is the biggest miscommunication within the ICC.
Students need to consider their interests when choosing a theme, because they will be taking five courses related to that idea over the course of their four years. However, this is difficult to do, because we were only given a time period of about an hour to explore themes through stands set up during orientation and picked the next morning. An extended period of time to explore each theme would be helpful so we can make the right decision.
Looking ahead, the ICC program will help prepare students for their college careers through the seminars. However, choosing a theme at orientation while trying to pick classes is overwhelming because of the brief amount of time to make a selection. When there are more choices and more time to pick a theme, students will be able to benefit from the ICC goals of opening their minds to new ideas.