A major academic goal of a liberal arts education is to transform students in meaningful and positive ways.
The Independent Learning Experience (ILE) will help students take responsibility for their education, and foster student initiative and independence by enhancing their confidence in their own abilities.
Students may complete their Independent Learning Experience requirement in several different ways. Many students enjoy doing two or more:
- Independent Research
- Study Abroad
- Student Teaching
- Participation in Summer Fellows or comparable summer research program
Read what our Alums have to say about their ILE experience!
I have gotten into West Chester, Temple, and Penn’s school counseling programs! Thank you so much, Dr. Chambliss, for writing me a recommendation and all of the other advice and information you sent me during this process!
I am fortunate that I can narrow my choices to Temple and Penn. Right now I am just thrilled to have been accepted into these programs and this is a great pickle to be in! I can never thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me since I began taking Psychology classes at Ursinus. You pushed me to try harder and become the best version of myself that I could be, and I am so grateful for that!
I participated in a summer internship for my ILE. I worked with an organization in Laconia, NH called New Beginnings without Violence and Abuse as a direct service advocate. This opportunity allowed me to experience firsthand what a career in victim’s advocacy entails. One of the great things about working for a small non-profit organization is that you get to try out a variety of different positions, for example; I went to a local elementary school with the education coordinator where we presented to young kids about conflict resolution and bullying, redesigned the support room to make it feel like a safer space, participated in community outreach events, sat in on group support sessions for adults and children, completed a 40 hour training program that provided me with the tools necessary to answer the crisis response hotline, and was able to respond to the local court house to help individuals file petitions for domestic violence restraining orders. My involvement in so many aspects of the organization was a unique experience and I do not believe I would have had the same flexibility or opportunities had I worked at a larger organization. The advocates and clients I worked with were some of the most inspiring and empowering people I have ever met, and I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them. If I could give a piece of advice to anyone looking to do a summer internship I would recommend researching where you want to work and contacting the organization, even if they do not have an internship opportunity posted. I never would have gotten to intern with New Beginnings if I had not reached out and asked. Additionally, no matter what opportunity you choose to fulfill your ILE, invest yourself in the experience. You never know if you will have another opportunity like the one you have been given, so take advantage of that and truly immerse yourself in whatever internship, research, or study abroad experience you are involved in.
Participating in research was an amazing experience. Being able to practice what you learn in the classroom, makes the information easier to understand and apply in real life. Working as a part of a research team was also beneficial because we were able to feed off each other’s ideas and experiences to better develop our hypotheses, while working side by side with the faculty. Not only did we present our research at Ursinus but we were also given opportunities to present at different conferences in PA, which was great experience for those of us who continued into graduate school. Having real research experience also sets you apart from other candidates for job opportunities and for graduate programs.
My time spent conducting research at Ursinus was one of the most enriching academic activities that I’ve participated in. As others have pointed out, such experiences often reaffirm material presented in the classroom but contain an additional cooperative element. What should also be stated is that individuals involved in ILE must devise creative methods to accomplish their long-term goals in a much more encompassing fashion than would be required in a conventional group project. Additionally, my research advisor held members of her research teams to different standards than she expected from students in her other courses due to the progressive academic nature of ILE. We enthusiastically embraced these heightened expectations, which resulted in an especially meaningful relationship with her and made our team’s successes much more gratifying. In my opinion, these types interactions result in a degree of understanding and passion about a specific topic much that more similar to a professional or graduate student than what is typically expected of an undergraduate in a lecture-based course. I highly encourage anyone considering an ILE to contact an alumni who has participated in this Ursinus tradition to see how they were positively impacted by such a valuable component of their liberal arts education.