Expand your horizons with an independent project

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

January at Oberlin means winter term. What winter term means is up to you.

Independent projects require creativity and careful planning.  Students should commit 5-6 hours per weekday for a full project or 2-3 hours per day for a half project.

  • In addition to the offices associated with project focus areas, the Academic Advising Resource Center or the Office of Winter Term can provide assistance in generating project ideas.  
  • Determine where the project should take place: on-campus, off-campus domestic, or off-campus international. 
  • Create an appropriate title for your project to appear on your transcript.  The title can be no longer than 30 characters, including spaces.
  • Consider what resources will be needed to make the project successful.  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.
  • Determine your learning goals and an appropriate final product to share with your sponsor.  What do you hope to accomplish? How will you demonstrate what you have learned? This 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.  Any approved faculty or staff member can serve as a project sponsor. A student’s academic advisor may be a suitable sponsor, or may be able to suggest others.  Consider sponsors with academic interests related to the project, which can be found by department, or with access to relevant on or off campus resources. 
  • Students must meet with their sponsors to discuss project details and create learning goals before submitting their proposal.

  • Early planning is the key to a successful winter-term project, especially if it involves international travel.  Students should meet with their sponsor in late September to discuss their plans. 
  • No matter where a project is taking place, there is a single winter term application deadline.  Refer to the calendar for all the important winter term dates.
  • Students will need to officially commit to their chosen project  once they have been accepted in order to receive credit.  Refer to the calendar for all the important winter term dates.

Need an idea? Be inspired by the winter term projects developed by Oberlin students in years past.

Winter Term Inspiration