The 5 Academic Pillars of Bard College and Their Importance
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Chase Williams in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.
Situated in upstate New York, Bard College offers a best-of-both-worlds approach to college education as a liberal arts school with access to a breadth of resources. The values and mission of the college are based on five core pillars — traditions and stages that will ensure that students are successful and prepared.
The first Pillar is the Language and Thinking Program. This is for first-year students, and it’s a two-and-a-half-week program that you’ll undertake immediately upon entry into Bard.
Essentially, this is a writing seminar where, in short, you learn how to write college-level papers. You’ll write your first paper and delve into dense texts. You learn different methods to apply to writing your papers. And the beauty of it is that it’s a pass/fail program.
It’s really designed to make sure that every student, no matter what high school you come from, is prepared to succeed at Bard.
From there on, you’ll matriculate into your first semester and then continue with the First-Year Seminar. This is basically a great course, where you’re taking a class in each semester and working with a professor along with other students, reading different sorts of text and gleaning meaning from them.
Some of your first graded college-level papers take place through that course. It will also help you familiarize yourself with some of the important authors that heavily influenced the work that you might be studying moving forward.
Citizen Science takes a bit of a similar format as Language and Thinking, but as you might imagine, it tackles science.
It’s really important to us as a liberal arts college to emphasize that we also believe in scientific literacy as a fundamental tool for students to have in order to enrich themselves in their education. And so through Citizen Science, which you’ll take in two and a half weeks during Winter Intersession, you’ll learn how to engage with the sciences.
There’s usually a common theme. So you might be studying, for example, water or infectious diseases. You also engage in community service, learning what the community’s impression is of these different topics. And then you also learn how to peer review articles.
This is a pass/fail course, so it’s an opportunity for you to just be open, be engaged, and be curious.
Moderation is declaring your major. It’s a more intentional process at Bard, and it takes place in the middle of your college career. We ask you to take some really deep reflection and ask yourself, why do I want to study X?
You need to work with professors to figure that out. That’s why it’s called Moderation.
Finally is the Senior Project. Now, at other schools, you might hear about an honors program that requires you to submit a thesis. Bard doesn’t have an honors program, but instead, every student does have to work on a thesis for their entire final year, and they’re working on something meaningful to them.
Most students will submit either 50 to 60 pages of work. They might submit a long-year long lab report. Or they might be working on an art exhibit.
These Pillars are important for operating throughout Bard and persisting during those four years. They are a way of applying the things that you’ve learned and will help you throughout your college career and in your professional and personal life.