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What Does Freedom Mean to You?

If you came to the University of Rochester, one of the things you would hear a lot about from our students, faculty and staff is that we have an open curriculum.  But what is this open curriculum that we are so eager to talk about?  Well let me explain . . .

At the University of Rochester there are no required subjects—yes, I said it—no required subjects. Well, there is actually one freshman required writing course, but you only have to choose one out of the 70 different kinds of writing courses. So, I am pretty confident that you will be able to find one that you enjoy.  Like many of our Meridians (tour guides) have so eloquently put it on many campus tours,  “If you never want to take a math course again, you wont have to." What that means for  so many students here at Rochester, is that you have the ability to build a one-of-a-kind academic program based on your own unique interests and goals.    Because of this freedom, Rochester students often create their own majors, intertwine unique double majors/minors, work and study abroad and even find time to take private music lessons at Eastman. But don’t take my word for it—here is what some of our current students had to say.

Patrick Messmer ’10

Academic freedom was important to me because I came to Rochester as a German and Economics major, planning on going to business school. I felt as though I should be a German and Economics major because of my background in high school, but when I took a philosophy class, I found what I truly love. So junior year I decided to redefine myself and switched my major to Philosophy and Political Science and was able to complete both majors despite not having taken any of those classes my first 2 years. Now I’m going to law school next semester, so I really changed where I was heading at a really late point in college and I don’t think I could have done that at most institutions.

Tsion Girum ’12

Freedom means having the chance to study what you really want to study—to be able to double major or minor and do as much as you can in a short period of time.  I am a  sophomore and I am almost done with my Economics major.  I have already started working on my 2 minors, African American Studies and Math.  My dad always says, you have to give yourself options so that’s what I want to do. The more I diversify my fields of study the more options I’ll have later.

Yoon Jung Shin ’11

Freedom is having the choice to study what I want to study. I’m pre-med, majoring in Biochemistry, but I’m also interested in Economics and language areas.    So I’m clustering in Economics and Spanish. Since I have already finished my Spanish cluster, I started taking Chinese. I think I might make it a minor because I am really enjoying it. If I had to take required courses, I wouldn’t have the option to explore what I want to learn. Eventually this will all help me as I try to get a job because if I want to go into medicine or even business, I can do it in places that I have learned the language and I will be able to relate to the people more easily.

Taurean Parker ’13

Freedom is being in control of my fate. I am currently undecided but I’m taking courses in math, chemistry, history and psychology. I’m leaning towards math but I might want to minor in Russian language. That’s what my history class is about, Russian History, and I want to study abroad in Russia. I get to find things that suit my interests, while pursuing a discipline so I get to find out who I am.

At the University of Rochester, we strongly believe that if you are learning what you love then you will be happy to be learning. Please share your stories with us about what academic freedom means to you.

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