To provide students opportunities to pursue self-directed learning, the school offers a rich program of independent study. Following our belief that students learn best when they become architects of their own education, the program encourages students to pursue independent study by awarding transcript credit for a variety of self-initiated projects. A committee comprised of teachers across the disciplines oversees the approval process for these projects.
Students who wish to apply for an independent study should first enlist the sponsorship of a UHS faculty member or, in some cases, the supervision of an adult off-campus. Students should indicate their interest in pursuing independent study on the program planning form and then develop their proposals with their sponsors. In most cases, a student will meet with a sponsor at least twice prior to submitting an independent study proposal, once to discuss the general idea for the independent study and once to review and refine the written independent study proposal.
Students may apply for full-semester credit for projects that will require at least four hours of work per week, and for half-semester credit for projects that will require at least two hours per week. Students will discuss with their faculty sponsor whether the independent study will receive a letter grade or credit only, and will designate on the application the option on which the student and sponsor have agreed.
While faculty sponsors will develop their own specific criteria for evaluating the independent studies they sponsor, all graded independent studies will include evaluation of the following: consistency of the student’s preparation and attendance; depth and sophistication of the student’s engagement; and some kind of culminating project, which could take the form of a paper, a performance, a presentation, or some other form of sharing what the student has learned with the school community. independent studies receiving credit only will be assessed based on the consistency of preparation and attendance.
Applications must be submitted on time and are usually due on the Friday following the grace period of either semester. First semester students who wish to continue an independent study during the second semester must re-apply.
Each independent study proposal must include a “milestone,” which serves as a safety measure to protect students from overcommitting themselves. Students must complete their milestone goals by a date specified by the independent study committee, usually the Friday preceding the end of the 1st quarter in the fall or the third quarter in the spring. If the student does not complete the milestone goal, the independent study is removed from his or her schedule. Once the proposal is approved and the milestone is successfully completed, the student is responsible for finishing the independent study.