How to make your own AOC

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Photo courtesy of New College website

Did you come to New College under the impression that you would be able to carve out your own Creative Writing AOC? Were you disappointed to discover that not only would it be impossible given our faculty, but that even if we had the resources you would still probably have no clue as to how to get the process of establishing an AOC into motion?

New College boasts that creating your own AOC is an option, but very few people actually pursue it. This is probably because it is a bit of a daunting task, especially when there is very little published information on how to do it.

While it probably still isn’t possible to make your own Creative Writing AOC, I’m here to tell you that it’s probably possible to create something else if you can find the right professor.

I know this because I’m doing it myself: I am currently in the process of developing a Media Studies AOC with the help of Professor of Sociology Queen “Mecca” Zabriskie.

If you are interested in creating your own AOC, the first thing to do is to know what you want. You have to have clear goals in mind and be able to connect these goals to things already being studied here at New College in enough courses. While a journalism AOC would obviously be awesome, having one tutorial here on newspaper production renders the school unable to adequately provide you with a full journalism education.

The second thing to do is to find the right professors to work with. If you got through the first step with a few relevant New College courses in mind, then you are probably in luck. I had taken Sociology of Arts and Performance with Professor Zabriskie, so I knew she had some expertise in the area of artistic production from a critical sociological standpoint. Since she was already my advisor, having her sponsor my AOC proposal was an easy move. You will need at least two other professors to sign off on the AOC for you. I plan to ask members of the Humanities faculty as well as other members of Social Sciences if they would be interested.

The fun thing about creating your own AOC is that you get to design your prospective course of study yourself, based on exactly what you are interested in. However, it will need to be based on programs from other top schools. Take a look at their requirements, and compare them to the courses you have already taken here and the courses you know you can take in the future. I am using Media Studies programs from UC Berkeley, MIT and other schools to establish the requirements of my Media Studies AOC here. With the new local consortium of colleges, it will be easier to fill whatever gaps in the requirements New College may leave. You may also want to consider studying abroad or using NSE. Your professors might even require it of you.

The final big thing to do is to write up all the information you have gathered in a neat proposal. This will contain an overview of the field you intend to work with in your AOC as well as how it connects to and benefits from New College’s current curriculum. You have to state the criteria for the AOC, drawing from the curricula at comparable institutions and stating which courses at New College fulfill those requirements. You will furthermore need to have an idea for your senior thesis in mind.

Sometimes the process can be a little less concrete. Thesis student Heath Hawkins created an AOC in Creative Technologies, a program which very few schools nationwide offer. There is definitely some flexibility to the process depending on which professors you are working with.

Above all, establishing your own AOC here is about meeting New College’s high standards. This means studying a field with the same seriousness as you would a traditional AOC while going above and beyond in terms of independence. If you can make it work, designing your own AOC is the perfect way to take advantage of New College’s freedom to do what you truly love.

But hey – if it doesn’t work out, divisional AOCs and general studies are totally viable ways to achieve this, too.

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