Life-Long Learners and Critical Thinkers
Prescott College’s Resident Undergraduate Degree is a four-year liberal arts program preparing students to be life-long learners and critical thinkers in a broad, interwoven range of models of inquiry: literary, scientific, artistic, social, spiritual, and physical. The program emphasizes the interdisciplinary connections rather than the distinctions between these ways of understanding the world.
Active, Collaborative, and Experiential Learning
The College ensures that students are given multiple and frequent opportunities to learn in authentic situations – through seminar-style classes that promote participation and dialogue, practicum and internship experiences, independent studies, and field experiences. A Prescott College education is based on the idea that students are in control of their learning, and learn best through self-direction, experiential learning, and real-life experience.
This approach to education is both engaging and academically rigorous. Students are expected to assume an active role as they travel, mesh with local communities, conduct field studies, participate in faculty research, and apply their knowledge to real-life problems. Faculty members are guides and coaches who help the students acquire this knowledge. Prescott College is not simply an alternative. It is an entirely different way to help support learners in their search for knowledge.
Students choose Prescott College because this is the place where they can flourish, where they will find themselves integral to any class, where their voices will be heard not only in the classroom or field but also in the design and implementation of their academic careers. Faculty are here to support them in their endeavors, to clarify their options, and to help them see their personal aspirations and goals within a larger context – academic, personal, ecological, artistic, service-related, and global.
At Prescott College students don’t just accumulate credits, get their tickets punched, and graduate. Students are expected to be literate in their fields of study, to have mastered the methodologies of a discipline, to have applied and integrated and personalized their learning, and to have demonstrated competence through the design and execution of a Senior Project. Students define, describe, and demonstrate how their particular courses, independent studies, and experiences create a coherent academic plan.
Prescott College believes that internal motivation to learn leads to genuine learning, in contrast to working solely for extrinsic rewards like grades, credits, and GPA. This learning is accomplished through completion of courses and independent studies, and through hands-on research, service and management projects, and artistic creation. Credit is granted through completion of learning contracts in courses or independent studies. Students’ self-designed graduation programs culminate in Senior Projects often comparable to Master of Arts theses.
Adventure and Challenge
Early on, Prescott College gained national fame and was featured in the popular and educational media with exciting photographs of students engaging in technical rock climbing, participating in political and environmental conferences, completing the first kayak crossing of the Sea of Cortez, vigorously debating in very small freshman courses, following Don Quixote’s route in Spain through La Mancha on horseback, and working in summer archeological digs on the Hopi reservation. The founders of Prescott College believed that “the contemporary student needs a program that provides adventure and challenge, both physical and mental, and is linked with nature.” Prescott College challenges students to engage in and excel in their chosen fields, and pursue a spirit of exploration, whether they are in a classroom or the field. Students build and strengthen intellectual capacities, inter- and intra-personal relationships, personal health, leadership skills, and environmental understanding.
Field-based Research and Learning
Many Prescott College courses have strong field components, and some are conducted entirely in the field. Students are encouraged to study and live in cultural contexts outside their normal experience in order to gain meaningful experiences about the world through interacting with it. Many block courses – month-long courses offered at the beginning of every academic term – are fully immersive and conducted entirely in the field, taking students to the Grand Canyon, the Sea of Cortez, Africa, Europe, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and throughout the Southwest and the world to engage in research and hands-on learning experiences – deliberately blurring the line between college as preparation for life and life itself.
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