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Explore, Create, Connect

It's a classic dilemma: How can you find something, if you don't know what you're looking for?

Here we suggest a few ways to answer that question. By design, our undergraduate curriculum leaves space for you to explore, create, and connect. There's no telling where your curiosity might lead you.

Pull a Thread You Find Interesting

When an idea or topic catches your attention, follow up and learn more. Find an upper-level course that takes a deeper, closer look. Or an intro-level course that provides a broad context. Search the course descriptions across disciplines, and maybe come at the topic from a different angle. Search the web descriptions of faculty research to see who might specialize in this area – then go talk to them during office hours. Work with a Swem research librarian to find related source material. Ask yourself: Are there ways I can experience this knowledge or theory in real-world situations? Find out.

Make Spaces for the New and Unexpected

Often our brains are already forming interesting ideas and insights – there's just too much background noise to pay attention! Give yourself some free time without distractions. You might be surprised by what you've already started to figure out.

Every now and then, schedule yourself time to experience something new. Academic departments and programs often host visiting scholars. Check out the projects presented during Undergraduate Research Month. Our student groups present all kinds of interesting activities. Go to some. Every now and then, introduce yourself to someone new. Feeling shy? Start with a question, and take it from there.

Try Out Some Different Perspectives

Some of the best learning experiences happen when you're outside your comfort zone. Relocating yourself to another perspective can add nuance and subtlety to the way you see something. Make an effort to learn another person's lived experience. Spend some time trying to think and see from their point of view. You can do this at the cultural and national levels, too. What values or ways of understanding are shaping a group's beliefs? You can find out directly in person through study away or study abroad, community engagement, or off-campus internships. Check out the academic resources that can help you make that happen. Often the best answers are found where multiple perspectives converge.

Shape Your Ideas and Knowledge into Something New

There are so many ways to create something new. Coding a computer programming sequence. Developing a thesis and supporting your claims with credible information sources. Producing a piece of art. Designing a laboratory experiment. What will you create from your own ideas and knowledge? Many of your class assignments will structure this process intentionally. So can you. Find your voice, create meaning from what you know, and you take a critical step toward owning how you want to be in the world. In the "elective" part of your undergraduate program, your choices are creating a liberal arts experience that's uniquely your own.

Enough Flexibility to Make Adjustments

It's good to have a plan. And it's good to keep things a little flexible, so there's room to make adjustments and find the right balance for you. Every time you learn something, you change. Think about what you hope to accomplish during your time here at William & Mary. Recognize that your goals might well shift along the way.