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Few Exploratory Subjects Declared by Sophomores

Five-year C.U.P. Experiment Receives Limited Response

By Tongyan Lin

Forty-seven sophomores have chosen to designate a class as an Exploratory Subject as of last Friday, said Assistant Registrar Peter R. Hayes.

The exploratory subject option is available for the first time this year. J. Mark Schuster PhD ’79, chair of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program, felt that the low number of sophomores who signed up should be alleviated “once there’s a junior class to tell sophomores about it.”

C.U.P. has advertised the exploratory subject option and has sent a letter to all advisers encouraging them to discuss the option with their advisees.

However, Monica M. Lewis ’06 said she has only heard about it through word of mouth and does not know “how to [do it] or the dates for it.”

Option encourages exploration.

Sophomores are allowed to designate one class per term as “exploratory.” A class designated exploratory can be changed to listener status at any time, including after final grades are issued.

If the student chooses to accept credit and receive a grade, the class will appear on his transcript without any designation as exploratory.

Exploratory subjects were designed to allow sophomores to look into classes they might not normally take. For example, “a sophomore might be deciding between one road or another within a major” or considering a minor or double major, and would benefit from the option of trying out a class risk-free, Schuster said.

Exploratory subjects are part of a five-year experiment by C.U.P. and was endorsed unanimously by the faculty in April of 2001.

Subjects may ease stress

This option is also intended to ease the transition to MIT since students now only have Pass/No Record grading for the first semester of freshman year, rather than the entire year, he said.

Lele Yu ’06 thinks that it could allow “a good transition into sophomore year because it means you are able to explore and challenge yourself without being too stressed.”

Jonathan P. Ursprung ’06 is taking Literature and Film (21L.435) as his exploratory subject. “I like the idea that I can just drop it off my transcript if I don’t do it well,” he said.

Some students who are taking many required classes feel as though they aren’t able to take advantage of exploratory subjects.

Heather M. Brundage ’06 said that sophomores “don’t have room to take classes other than their HASS requirements [and] major requirements.” With an already full schedule, she would need to take an extra class to benefit from the program.

Students have until Oct. 3, Add Day, to change the status of a class to exploratory. The form is available in the Registrar’s office.