Juniors take on independent study

Abigail Salzhauer, Staff Writer

This year, Angie Cortez (11) and Sam Mayo (11) are the only juniors participating in the Independent Study course.

Independent Study is a full credit elective course in which students design and carry out their own projects on a topic of their choosing guided by a faculty mentor with whom they meet regularly. Students must apply to the course with a topic in mind, according to the independent study application.

Mayo and Cortez are not the first juniors to take Independent Study, Director of Independent Study Avram Schlesinger said. While some juniors apply almost every year, juniors rarely end up taking the course. For many of them, it is a second choice class or they are just not ready to take the course, he said.

While deciding whether or not to allow a junior to take the course, Schlesinger thinks about “both the student and the project,” he said. While there were applications, no juniors took the course during the 2017-2018 school year.

Though the work is no different for juniors than it is for seniors, students who take independent study as juniors can take the course again as a senior with a different project. This has been done three times in the past, Schlesinger said.

Mayo, who took independent study this year instead of a history, is studying abstract algebra and does not feel like being a junior in the class is different from being any other student enrolled in the course, he said.

“The only difference is not having as many close friends in the class,” Mayo said.

“I decided to take an independent study as a junior rather than as a senior because it was a topic I have wanted to know more about practically my whole life,” Cortez, who is studying the History and Evolution of Computers, said. “I just couldn’t wait to get started.”

Cortez already had a rough outline of what she wanted to study in early October of 2017, she said.

Schlesinger thinks that as the school transitions away from the AP curriculum, independent study will be a possibility for students to “engage in a discipline at a level that is different than they would in a traditional class,” he said.

Schlesinger doesn’t see a reason for juniors not to take independent study if they feel the topic that they are interested in is not covered in another class, and there are some instances where the student can only fit the course into their schedule their junior year, he said.

“I think independent study allows students to define, to a certain extent, who they are academically and I think that both juniors and seniors are figuring that out,” Schlesinger said. “I don’t think seniors are necessarily better at figuring that out than juniors are, and its good for all students to be thinking about who they are academically.”