Students of New College are offered an alternative academic experience

Students+of+New+College+are+offered+an+alternative+academic+experience

New College students get a unique interdisciplinary college experience.

CW / Abbie Collins

Isabella Garrison

For freshmen, choosing a major can sometimes be hard. Some have no idea what they would like to do while others have a difficult time choosing between the things they love. For the latter, the idea of a double major may be daunting, both in time and academic commitment, but the idea of sacrificing a passion for convenience is even worse.

“My senior year, I just had a lot of different interests, and I felt that, like, when I went to college I’d have to pick one of those interests and stick with it,” said Millicent Krebs, a sophomore majoring in non-profit studies in New College. “I couldn’t do everything I wanted to. I ended up taking a tour of Alabama and … someone suggested I talk to someone from New College.” 

According to their website, New College is an interdisciplinary liberal arts program where highly motivated undergraduates design their own curricula leading to BA or BS degrees.

Krebs found a supportive New College staff that helped guide her to her current major. 

“I ended up talking with one of the advisors with New College and immediately, when they told me what New College was, it just fit me. … It allowed me to combine all my interests into one major that really could suit me instead of just settling for something that kind of fit what I wanted to do,” Krebs said.

A hallmark of New College is the advising program. Because New College is limited to two-hundred students, students become very close to their advisor. Jenna Minser, a freshman majoring in environmental non-profit studies, expressed the impact that the process has had on her.

“The way New College works is that you’re paired with a specific advisor, so I know my specific advisor,” Minser said. “What’s really cool is that, because you don’t have a document that tells you ‘here’s what you’re going to be taking,’ you get paired with an advisor that is an expert in what you want to do.” 

Minser wants to work for a non-profit one day, and she said her advisor helped her head in the right direction.

“I’m paired with a professor who really, really knows her way around the non-profit world,” Minser said. “She is really, really good at saying, like, ‘Okay, this is what you want to aim for, here’s a wonderful set of skills you can learn, and here’s how you can learn these skills.’ ”

Krebs said relationships between students and advisors in New College differs from those of other colleges.

“One of the best parts about New College is you have a really strong advisor-student relationship,” Krebs said. “So, with a lot of other programs, you might have an advisor but literally talk to them once a year just to set your schedule and that’s in, whereas in New College, you’re consistently in contact with your advisor.”

Though the advisor-student relationships in New College are strong, New College students are expected to be much more active in planning their future than most.

“New College isn’t for people who are undecided, but for people that have very specific intentions,” Virginia Jones, a senior majoring in criminal justice and psychology, said. “I was initially drawn to New College by the concept of a major that was self-driven. I actually applied and was accepted to New College in my first semester at UA because I immediately knew that it was exactly what I was looking for in a major program. I have always been an independent person, so the opportunity to have a more involved role in shaping my education really appealed to me.”

Jones said she feels that her program has prepared her for life post-graduation.

“I would have to say one of the most important ways that New College has prepared me for the post-undergraduate world is the responsibility of driving and planning my own education,” Jones said. “Essentially, if I want to do something, I have to get out there and make it happen.”

Additionally, every New College student goes through “Third Year Review,” –– a meeting in their junior year with their advisor and an expert in their desired field. Jones said, Third Year Review, was one of the most helpful, constructive experiences New College has to offer.

Krebs said New College is one of the University’s many hidden gems. 

“If you’re looking to create that interdisciplinary perspective, New College is a great opportunity,” Krebs said. “If you know that your interests go way beyond anything offered (in traditional majors), that’s what New College is for.”