Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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The Academic Experience

We take you seriously as scholars and as thinkers. We believe your ideas matter. In small classes with lots of individual attention, you’ll get an education that’s about connecting and synthesizing—not memorizing and regurgitating.

Students explore ideas in classroom discussion.

As you study science and math, languages and literature, the social sciences, and the arts, you’ll learn how to learn: you’ll find that asking insightful questions becomes second nature, and discover commonalities and connections no one noticed before—a surprisingly rare skill, and one that’s highly valuable in graduate school, the workplace, and life.

The First Year: Writing and Thinking

You’ll be expected to write (and write, and write) in every class at Simon’s Rock—tangible proof of your ability to think clearly and coherently, and to develop a complex, persuasive argument. That’s why your very first experience on campus is the intensive weeklong Writing and Thinking workshop led by faculty from different disciplines. You’ll gather in small groups (generally 11 students and a professor) to pursue the arts of critical thinking and clear expression.

 Learn about our writing and thinking foundations

The first and second years: exploring widely

Male student in classroom

In your freshman and sophomore years at Simon’s Rock, half of your classes will be a core of seminars that all students take simultaneously. Seminars are small, intense, and exhilarating. You’ll see how ideas collide, clash, and feed off one another. You’ll learn to look at the world through multiple lenses. Once you start thinking like this, it’s hard to stop: don’t be surprised to find yourself in the lunchroom with your classmates discussing things like the platonic ideal of cake.

The other half of your courses in your first two years will be electives, which you’ll choose with your advisor based on 1.) The general direction you’d like your life to take (no worries if that’s still pretty amorphous); 2.) Topics that excite you the most (and it’s perfectly fine to study multiple topics simultaneously); and 3.) Topics you never dreamed you’d study (we’re good at helping you arrive at unexpected destinations). Simon’s Rock is all about rigor, discovery, and support.

The second year: your plan comes into focus

Early in your second year, you’ll begin what we call Moderation—a scholarly term we borrowed from Oxford University. You’ll meet with your academic advisor and the associate dean of academic affairs to delve into what really excites you and help you blaze your own path. You’ll consider how to best achieve your goals at Simon’s Rock. You can also discuss transferring as a junior to another college or university.

A sophomore meets wtih his advisor.

At the heart of Moderation is the creation of an intellectual roadmap. You’ll meet with faculty members in your area(s) of interest and together design a program of study for the next two years of your academic life. Our professors excel at setting the bar slightly above what you think is possible—and then showing you how to clear it. This is also when you’ll align your interests and goals with our 35+ concentrations.

 BA and AA degree options
 sophomore planning and moderation

The third year: digging deeper, making new discoveries

Montserrat beach scene

As you continue to focus your studies, we’ll encourage you to take advantage of more rich and exciting opportunities. Our many offerings beyond the classroom include internships, tutorials, independent study, and off-campus experiences. Here’s a pleasing irony: we’re a small, intimate school—but our opportunities open up a wide world to you.

The fourth year: Senior Thesis

Also known as “the kind of work most people don’t do until they’re in graduate school,” the Senior Thesis is a yearlong project, required of all seniors. Theses can be works of historical and literary scholarship, original scientific investigation, or extended creative projects. It’s the capstone of your work at Simon’s Rock, and an experience that Rockers from any class year can bond over. You’ll take on every aspect of the project, from conception to production.

Your professors and advisors will do the things they’ve been doing all along, only more so: provoke, encourage, nudge, nurture, and applaud. When you’re done, a copy of your thesis is bound and kept in the Alumni Library—your contribution to the world’s storehouse of knowledge.

Male student in the library
 Learn about the Senior Thesis
 Talk to a Rocker about their Senior Thesis