Embracing the unknown: University Studies begins year two

By Marty Burris

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A. Sue Weisler

Marty Burris

I moved to Rochester from the Midwest, and within a few weeks I was intrigued by a weather phenomenon in upstate New York. Simply put, the weather conditions often depend on what side of the New York State Thruway you live.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to escort an RIT alumnus on a tour of campus, and his “Thruway experience” was strikingly similar. The campus he knew ended where the science and engineering academic buildings now stand. The entire campus from that point west was new and different with buildings such as the Center for Bioscience Education and Technology, the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, the LEED Gold-certified Engineering Technology Hall and the LEED Platinum-certified University Services Center, which houses the new Center for Student Innovation. But these are more than just buildings. They represent many new majors, programs and options of study for the students at RIT.

New RIT students who are getting settled on campus this fall include the second class of University Studies students. In addition to looking at choices about where to eat on campus, these students have the additional and important choice of what major they wish to pursue. RIT is well positioned to provide undecided students an opportunity of a lifetime.

The eight colleges offer many traditional disciplines, such as business and engineering on one side of the road, and many additional, unique and interdisciplinary options on the other side of the road. Where else can an artist, a computer programmer and a scientist be one in the same or possibly three different students working on an interdisciplinary team in the Center for Student Innovation.

University Studies advisors encourage students to embrace the unknown and learn about their interests, values and skills in order to make an informed choice of major. Through coursework, one-on-on advising, cross-college collaboration and learning from each other, approximately 75 percent of the first University Studies class from last fall are now in their major of choice, and those choices span across all eight colleges.

Students uncertain about their long-term educational and career plans—whether new to RIT or a current student considering an internal transfer—will find that University Studies and its academic advising services can provide guidance and opportunity to explore and experience their interests and find a program of study that is the right fit.

Marty Burris is director of the University Studies program. “Viewpoints” presents insight and opinions on issues of relevance to RIT or higher education generally. To suggest a topic for a future essay, contact news&events@mail.rit.edu.