Is there something you’re passionate about and want to study at school but don’t want to major in it and don’t have the time? The University of Rochester has a unique opportunity called the Take Five Scholars Program, which provides students with an additional semester or year of studying classes of their choosing, tuition free! I applied in October of my third year, was accepted that December, and started taking my first Take Five class the next semester.
How does it work?
Students are eligible to apply after they’ve completed at least one semester at the University, have at least one semester left, and have been officially accepted into a major. It’s important to note that your Take Five classes cannot be purely about whatever you want; there are some limitations. Your Take Five classes cannot count towards any graduation requirements and cannot be used to help you get a jump start on any post-graduate education or be very career focused. There’s such a wide variety of topics students choose to make their Take Five program about – check out the list of current Take Five Scholars and their program titles. When you come up with the list of classes you want to take you have to write an accompanying essay explaining your motivation to do the Take Five program and why these classes form a cohesive program.
Other application materials include:
- A plan for how you’d fulfill all graduation requirements if you don’t get in.
- A proposed schedule integrating your Take Five courses with your graduation requirements.
- Two letters of recommendation from faculty members. One of them will be your program recommender and you will work with them to craft your Take Five proposal.
Another important thing to clarify is that the program is tuition free, not cost free. All of the other costs associated with attending the University still apply, such as your dining plan, housing, and health insurance. It’s a popular choice for Take Five students to be a Residential Advisor during their fifth year, as they cannot live on campus otherwise plus they receive free housing. Rent in the neighborhoods across the river is relatively low for students, especially compared to what on-campus housing costs, and is another alternative for fifth-year students.
Why should you do it?
In addition to being able to explore a passionate academic interest through up to ten classes with no tuition costs, having a fifth year allows you to continue your involvement in student organizations and take on more leadership roles (or take on less if you are already a busy person and want to experience a more relaxed year). If you have younger friends, or friends who also do a fifth-year program, you get to spend more time with them – or make new ones!
I came to the University in the Spring 2020 semester, which was interrupted halfway through with the pandemic, and then spent the next year taking all online classes at home. Certainly not the college experience anyone expected. I am incredibly grateful to have a fifth year, not only to study a topic I find very interesting (my program is titled “Gender, Sexuality, and Society”), but it feels like an opportunity to make up for that year online where I had incredibly limited interactions with other students. I’ll likely be continuing my role as President of UR Photography Club in my fifth year and I will finish my role as the Publisher of the Campus Times (our student newspaper) as all of the staff terms run from January through December. While some of my friends are graduating, I also have ones who are younger than me and a few who are also doing fifth years through Take 5 or e5 (another tuition-free fifth-year program).
Need more convincing? Check out these quotes from recent Take Five Scholars on their experience!
Feel free to reach out to Joseph Rodgers, the Take Five Program Administrator, if you want to learn more or browse more of the Take Five webpage.