IU offers individualized options for artistic students

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Jan. 18, 2007 


Senior Catherine Reynolds said she knew as a freshman that she didn't want to pursue any major the University offered.

After speaking with her literature professor, Ray Hedin, she learned she didn't have to.

Reynolds said she opted for a more creative type of career preparation through the Individualized Major Program.

The program supervises the education of more than 100 undergraduate students who have career interests that don't fit into a single category or discipline, said Hedin, who is the program's director. Students can draw upon curiosities they have in several areas, such as music, education, English as well as others, he said.

Current students have been approved to pursue majors ranging from violin-making to history of animated media, according to a list on the program's Web site. The list shows that more than one-third of those student-fashioned majors have an arts focus.

Reynolds, whose major is writing and illustrating children's books, said her schedule is comprised of creative writing, children's literature, art, child psychology and child sociology classes.

"I'm lucky in that every class in my major is something I'm really interested in and like, (which) I don't think you get with pre-made majors," Reynolds said in an e-mail.

Alyson Bloom, a sophomore musical theatre major, said she came to IU specifically for its Individualized Major Program.

"The IMP for musical theatre at Indiana is fairly well known to theatre students who apply (here)," Bloom said in an e-mail interview.

Most students apply to be part of the program during their sophomore and junior years but are able to submit an application at almost any time, Hedin said.

Once accepted into the program, students put together a tentative course list and a semester-by-semester plan for graduation with the help of a faculty sponsor, Hedin said.

With more popular individualized majors, students can have an easier time choosing courses, Bloom said. She said she was given a general course schedule that she and her sponsor, theatre and drama professor George Pinney, adapted to suit her specific needs.

"I had a lot of freedom to choose classes that were interesting and would help me become a stronger actress, singer and dancer," Bloom said.

IMP students receive a College of Arts of Sciences degree and must fulfill the same general-education requirements as all COAS students, Hedin said.

Although prospective IMP students might question how easily they will be hired after graduating with an individualized major, finding post-graduate employment is not very difficult, Hedin said .

Students who complete their individualized majors are well-prepared for the working world as well as for graduate and professional schools, Hedin said.

All student must write retrospective statements that explain their experiences and what types of courses they completed, so they can accurately explain their majors to future employers, he said.

IU alumna Lauren Feldman, who graduated in December with a degree in fashion design, said she had no trouble explaining to prospective employers in New York City what her major involved.

"The program was wonderful," she said. "I wouldn't have had it any other way."


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