By the end of the sophomore year, all students are required to write a two- to three-page essay in which they reflect on their educational experiences and articulate their academic concentrations. This essay, called the Intellectual Autobiography and Plan for Concentration, asks students to describe the central idea(s) of their concentration and the relevant coursework. This essay is a way for students to reflect on how they learn as individuals and to develop an academic plan with long-term goals in mind.
In writing the essay, students may want to begin by reflecting on their educational journey and exploring some of the following questions:
Why did you choose Gallatin? What were your educational goals? Have those goals changed? Why and how?
What educational experiences and courses (internships, seminars, independent studies, workshops, private lessons) have been influential to you? What was particularly interesting and why? What ideas have evolved from your educational experience so far?
Using these questions as a starting point, students can then turn their attention to the plan for their concentration:
What idea, period, subject, theme, concept, discipline is of particular interest to you? Is there a central idea or theme around which your concentration may be organized?
What kinds of study will you pursue? What types of courses (internships, seminars, independent studies, workshops, private lessons) will you take to construct the concentration and in what sequence might these classes be taken?
What is the meaning of such a course of study? What connections does this course of study have to other work and educational experiences, and what is its relevance to your future plans for graduate study or career?
For most students, these questions are similar to those they answer when they complete the Gallatin Plan of Study form. The Intellectual Autobiography and Plan for Concentration becomes the opportunity to integrate these ideas and to help students to seek out the ways that their courses converge and coalesce into a unique, individualized course of study.
Timetable for Writing the Essay
All students are required to submit the Intellectual Autobiography and Plan for Concentration (IAPC) no later than the end of the sophomore year (i.e., before completing 64 units). The timing of the essay in a student’s career at Gallatin may vary slightly, as students arrive at their concentrations at different rates and through different strategies. Some students may want to submit the essay earlier, but they should complete at least 32 units before doing so. Students who transfer into Gallatin with 64 units have until the end of their first semester at Gallatin to complete this requirement.
The Approval Process
The student’s adviser is responsible for approving the IAPC essay, and it is therefore important that students stay in close touch with their advisers as they work on this document. Once the essay is completed, the student needs to submit it to his or her adviser for approval. After the adviser has given approval, the student should then submit the IAPC to the Gallatin Office of Advising by using the online Intellectual Autobiography and Plan for Concentration form. Students who do not fulfill this requirement will have a restriction (called an IAPC Hold) placed on their registration. This restriction will prohibit students from registering or making schedule changes (such as dropping or adding courses) until the IAPC is approved by the adviser and submitted.
Changes in the Plan for Concentration
The Intellectual Autobiography and Plan for Concentration is a snapshot of a concentration already in progress. Consequently, the essay is not expected to be exhaustive or binding; rather, it is a way for students to make sense of and guide their studies. After the essay is approved, students may make changes as they progress toward the degree, and they should discuss these changes with their advisers.The substance of the plan may shift somewhat as the student’s focus becomes clearer or as the student’s interests evolve. If a student’s interests change significantly, the adviser may ask for a revision of the essay, and the student would be asked to consider whether there is sufficient time left in the program to be able to complete the new plan.