Wait Two Years, Then Start Your Major

Current and former students share their thoughts about the Liberal Studies curriculum.

The entrance to the NYU Liberal Studies Offices, located at 726 Broadway. (Staff Photo by Julia McNeill)

The Liberal Studies Program is unlike any other school at NYU. With its core curriculum, small class sizes and separate advising program, LS students experience a unique education while taking time to discover their interests and passions.

Two years of intimate classes limit opportunities for some at NYU, while other students are grateful for the foundation they find in Liberal Studies — and the direction it provides for their final two years.

LS includes a core curriculum with required classes, such as Cultural Foundations, Social Foundations and writing. LS first-year Xavier Williams said that the subject matter of the classes could be improved.

“There are times where I’m learning the same stuff in Cultural and Social Foundations, and I’m just like, ‘why am I here?’” Williams said.

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Current CAS junior and former LS student Gabriella Silva also agreed that the core curriculum lacked variety.

“I just felt that the courses were so repetitive after a while of doing the same class in three different stages,” Silva said in a Facebook message. “I would say try to add more diversity of core classes, perhaps have different versions or options for the CF and SF classes.”

LS prides itself on helping students determine their majors, which was the case for former LS and current Parsons junior Raquel Reynolds.

“For me, it was the best program since I was completely undecided about a future career,” Reynolds, who found her passion for blending art with business under a Design and Management BBA, said in a Facebook message.

One major factor that goes into determining one’s major is the advising help students receive, and LS has their own advising program specifically designed to help students form their academic and career goals. Some, like LS first-year Bojana Starcevic, benefited from the guidance.

“After my first semester and talking to my adviser and learning about majors that I didn’t consider before or even knew it existed, I’m getting a clearer idea,” Starcevic said.

(Illustration by Sophia Di Iorio)

However, Silva and others had a drastically different experience.

“My academic adviser was awful and totally unhelpful — it made me wonder if it was just LS advisers or what,” Silva said.

In addition to mixed reviews of the advising program, some students, including former LS student and current CAS junior Riley Baker, saw the two-year program as a delay to their plans rather than an advantage.

“I can’t double major or have a minor now because I was in LS,” Baker said. “When I try to explain LS to people who don’t go to NYU, they are like, ‘So you have a two-year thing and you can’t do your major?’ and I was like, ‘kind of.’”

During the college application season, many LS students read their letters with confusion.

“I actually applied to Liberal Studies on accident. I wanted to go straight into CAS and when [the acceptance] was ‘Liberal Studies,’ I was like, ‘What’s that?’” Baker said. “I wasn’t really happy or sad, it was just like ‘whoops!’”

Starcevic was not sure if she was accepted into NYU.

“My other friends from my high school also applied, and I texted them and was like, ‘I think I got in?’” Starcevic said. “I wasn’t sure if it meant I was deferred or something. I honestly didn’t know if I actually got into NYU. So I was confused, but I really wanted to go to NYU, so I was like ‘whatever it is, it’s fine’ basically.”

According to Baker, it takes a certain type of attitude to flourish in LS.

“I took from [Liberal Studies] what I could get from it,” Baker said. “LS is what you make of it — it is very self-driven. You have to read, you have to lead the discussion. That’s the biggest thing about it.” 

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 28, 2019 print edition. Email Anna de la Rosa at [email protected]

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