On the Road: Students Sound Off on ISPs Off Campus

Independent Study Project, or ISP, season is approaching. While some students are still contemplating what to do for an entire month on campus, other students have already finalized the details necessary to leave and do their ISP abroad.The ISP is a month long period in the month of January consisting of small one-on-one, or several, student-professor groups conducting research. This research can cover virtually any topic that the researcher so chooses. Every November, the school hosts a workshop detailing the areas that professors cover.

The ISP can be a daunting task, and yet any student that chooses to do study abroad has their work cut out for them. There is a substantial amount of paperwork and planning needed to go off campus. Ideally, a student should be able to formulate a legitimate proposal, find a professor who meshes well with the topic chosen, and then field their way through other issues, such as allocating funds, legitimizing research, and, of course, getting their proposal approved by the school.
“It’s all about finding the right professor,” said fourth year Ross Joseph, who went off-campus for his ISP last year. “[My sponsor]…was willing to work with me, and the other student, in terms of even if the most academic research, it was the most meaningful.”
As daunting as the task may seem, the administration does help ease the process of getting an ISP off campus approved.
“I think that our school has a really good system, and it’s supportive of students who want to take advantage of these opportunities. And do any kind of project whether it’s abroad or not,” said third year Kaylie Stokes, who is going to England for her ISP. “I’ve done a couple different projects where I’ve needed funding, and it’s never been an issue.”
The prospect of going off campus is an experience that many members of the community endorse, from students to faculty. An ISP that takes place off campus allows students a taste into the outside world. “I think, in general, whether or not you do it for an ISP or you go abroad for a semester, it’s a great experience because you’re out of the country, you’re going into a brand new culture, and you get to experience that, along with learning new material taught in a different way,” said second year Austin Richardson. “And I think that makes the experience even more rich.”

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