Independent Study and Going After What You Want

When I arrived at Kenyon, I was absolutely certain about what I would be studying. I had always excelled in English and I spent most of my senior year of high school writing for and running the school newspaper, so I figured that during my time at Kenyon I would study English, write for the school paper, and become a journalist.

Once I actually began my studies at Kenyon, though, things changed. While I still loved studying English and actually adored my first English class, I decided to branch out and try new things as well. In addition to English, I took an anthropology class, a sociology class, and most importantly, a music class. I had always been interested in music, but I had never had the opportunity to explore this interest in high school. I loved the class and it was like a door had opened—I took more music classes, a drama class, and began taking part in an opera and musical theatre workshop.

In exploring the options that Kenyon offered, I re-discovered a passion that I always had but not the courage or resources to explore—musical theatre. The only problem was that, despite the workshop in opera and musical theatre, Kenyon offered no other options for studying musical theatre (besides the occasional musical put on by an on-campus theater company). I had discovered my passion, but now I faced a new dilemma: How could I pursue an education in musical theatre at a school lacking a musical theatre program, or even any classes in musical theatre?

For a long while, I considered transferring to a school that offered a musical theatre program. While another school would allow me to easily pursue my passion, I was worried about the logistics of moving there. Would all of my credits transfer? Would I get enough financial aid to be able to afford a new school? Would starting over at a new school be good for my mental health?  After a lot of deliberation, I decided to stay at Kenyon.

Now, I was left with the task of figuring out how to make Kenyon fit my needs and goals. I talked with members of both the Drama and Music departments, hoping that someone would be willing to work with me to design a plan of classes that would allow me to go after my goals. Professors from each department were willing to work with me, and soon I had a plan within the drama department that allowed for the flexibility I needed to study what I wanted to study, while still fitting into an existing Kenyon department.

The moral of this story: never feel confined by the existing majors or areas of study of your college. With passion and hard work anything is possible, and sitting back and giving up on exploring your passions will only leave you frustrated and unfulfilled in the future. If you have done your research and your work, present yourself as capable and passionate, and truly believe that your interests are worth exploring, professors and staff will be willing to work with you to help reach your goals. Always remember that if you are passionate enough about something, there is no reason to ever give up. If something doesn’t exist, go out, create it and live your dreams, no matter what.


Image credits: The Kenyon Thrill,