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Special Study Plans Give Frosh Options

By A. Arif Husain
Associate News Editor

While most of this year's freshman class will be accommodated by the standard Institute curricular program, about one-eighth of freshmen will opt to join one of three alternative programs.

Alternative programs offer freshmen an opportunity to work in small groups, explore new approaches to learning, and take refuge from the pressure of a large classroom setting.

The three programs cover a range from the freedom and flexibility of the Experimental Study Group to the structure and supervision of Concourse. The Integrated Studies Program offers a more moderate plan by combining standard lecture subjects with additional seminars and activities.

Although they differ in their scope, the alternative programs share the common element of allowing a more personalized academic plan.


Concourse tries to present the freshman curriculum in as unified a manner as possible, according to a letter issued this summer by Director Robert M. Rose '58, professor of materials science and engineering.

The Concourse program is composed of two required core curricula in science and humanities. Concourse emphasizes the connections between the different subjects, thereby enhancing both the students' memory and understanding of the material, Rose said.

Some of the classes offered in Concourse differ from the mainstream courses. Chemistry includes both the class notes from Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry (3.091) and the textbook from Principles of Chemical Science (5.11). "This way we don't close any doors. You just have to work harder," Rose said.

The type of students attracted to the program has changed over the years, Rose said. Ten years ago, students were typically from small towns and apprehensive about the academic load at MIT. Now they are people who are very well prepared, Rose said.

Concourse is holding an orientation and lottery this afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m. in 20C-221.

Experimental Study Group

ESG has no required curriculum. According to a brochure issued by the ESG office, most students spend their first year working on biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and humanities classes.

Students who join ESG take their subjects through a combination of small classes, one-on-one tutorials, and discussion-oriented seminars.

In addition, the program emphasizes educational experimentation, like projects in robotics, computer modeling in biology, and digital electronics.

ESG includes about 50 first year students, 10 staff members who range from graduate students to retired faculty members, and 25 undergraduate student tutors who were in ESG as freshmen.

ESG has an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. today in 24-612.

Integrated Studies Program

The Integrated Studies Program stresses a strong hands-on approach to learning, according to Director Arthur Steinberg, professor of anthropology and archaeology.

Students in ISPtake the science and math courses of their choice, but they are required to take two Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Distribution subjects which emphasize technology. In particular, the courses focus on cross-cultural and societal issues relating to the subject.

The program typically appeals to students who are "inquisitive, who want to try something different, learn in different ways, and spend time in small groups," Steinberg said.

This year's program will emphasize writing more with the addition of a writing coach to the program. Previously offered through the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, ISP moved to the School of Engineering this year.

ISP is holding a picnic and the annual egg drop from noon to 4 p.m. today in Compton Court near the Alumni Pool.