Students who do cool things: Independent Concentrators

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Strong, independent Brown students who don’t need no defined concentration.

“Doesn’t everyone at Brown, like, make up their own major?” You might laugh off questions like this from naïve relatives, but if you wish their imagined version of Brown were actually the real one, an independent concentration is for you. Contrary to popular belief, there are only about 20 independent concentrators per class, but they each have a passion that drove them to design their own focus of study from scratch.

Last week, I attended an Independent Concentration info session to learn about the process of applying for an IC and all of the awesome concentrations that students have already put together. If you’re reading this is and thinking, “Damn, an independent concentration sounds so cool, but I’m already a junior,” it’s not too late: you can apply for an IC through your sixth semester.

But be warned: an independent concentration isn’t for the faint of heart simply looking to get out of other concentration requirements. In fact, an independent concentration takes much more thought and effort than a traditional one, and requires you to have a passion for something completely outside the realm of a current concentration. Students who pursue ICs work closely with a faculty advisor to create a cohesive course trajectory, and round off their concentrations with a capstone project or thesis.

To apply to be an independent concentrator, interested students fill out an online application that includes their intended course selection and a personal statement, and applications are reviewed three times per semester. A subcommittee of student ICers and faculty members read applications and give one of three decisions: accepted, tentative approval pending some changes, or encouraged to resubmit.

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