Office of Winter Term

Individual Projects

Students expand their horizons with self-directed individual projects.  

Student playing viola da gamba
Oberlin student Orion Sidoti takes a break from his computer science studies and practices the viola da gamba, an instrument he has always wanted to learn how to play.
Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko
Guidelines for Individual Projects:

1. Students should plan to spend 5-6 hours per day on their project, for a total of 25-30 hours of (unpaid) project work per week.

2. Project content can focus on any topic. The only rule is that projects cannot be harmful to the student or others! Any idea or inspiration can become a Winter Term project. Topics may include academic fields, career exploration/development, skill building, hobbies, personal development, research, and so much more. Check out this project example to see how one student turned the desire to “stay home and bake cakes” into a full Winter Term project.

3. Students will design their own project title, which will appear on their official transcript. Titles are strictly limited to 30 characters, including spaces. The title entered on the application page will appear, as is, on the student transcript. 

4. All individual projects must have an Oberlin College faculty or staff sponsor. Students should email their project title and a one-paragraph project description to their potential sponsor prior to completing the online project application.

5. After obtaining approval from a project sponsor (either via email or in-person), students select the individual project application that corresponds with their chosen project location (on-campus, off-campus U.S. domestic, or off-campus international) from the online project application page. 

  • Visit the Individual Project Toolkit to find resources for taking ideas and turning them into fully developed projects.  The toolkit is an interactive e-portfolio that includes templates for conceptualize and planning projects, archiving project work, and sharing project artifacts with project sponsors. 


  • Consider what resources will be needed to make a successful project.  Does the project require special equipment? Are there existing events or opportunities that could enhance the project?  It can be useful to develop a simple budget to determine costs. A budget template can be found in the "Funding Resources" tab.


  • Develop project learning goals, an agenda that supports those goals, and a plan for sharing project learning with the project sponsor.  Once a project concept is defined, students will outline specific learning goals and establish an agenda that leads to meeting those goals. Students are encouraged to experiment with novel methods of demonstrating their project learning. Project artifacts, provided to sponsors as evidence of student learning, can take many forms - a reflection essay, public performance, portfolio, or blog.  This is an opportunity to be creative!

  • Sponsors do more than administer grades for Winter Term projects; they can offer guidance, inspiration, and expertise to make a project more impactful.  College and Conservatory faculty and A&PS staff members can serve as project sponsors. A student’s academic advisor may be a suitable sponsor, or they may be able to suggest others who would be a good match for the project.  Consider sponsors with academic interests related to the project concept, which can be found by searching department faculty listings. 


  • Students must contact their sponsors to discuss their project concept and learning goals before submitting their proposal.