The Academic Journey

Learning at Marlboro is a cumulative journey, with each year serving as the foundation for the next. While every student’s academic journey is unique and dependent on personal interests and goals, the following overview outlines the general arc of a Marlboro education.

The First Two Years

The first year at Marlboro is about broad intellectual exploration. Students are encouraged to take courses in multiple disciplines, even if they think they know which degree field(s) they want to focus on. It’s also a time to develop foundational skills such as writing, critical reading and thinking, class participation, and research. 

In their second year, students should continue doing the kinds of things they were doing first year (studying broadly, developing key skills) but do so with an eye toward the Plan of Concentration. In addition to fulfilling the Clear Writing Requirement, students complete their Sophomore Review and Preliminary Plan Application by the end of second semester. Both the review and application serve as checkpoints in a student’s academic journey—an opportunity to assess the content and quality of learning to date and lay the preliminary groundwork for learning to come.

Education Ideals

Marlboro College faculty are committed to teaching, encouraging, and practicing ideals for independent learners and responsible citizens. The faculty expects students to commit to developing and practicing these ideals during their time as members of the Marlboro community. Some of these ideals are embodied in distinctly academic skills that faculty will cover in class and that course-work is designed to develop - the clearest example of such a skill is writing.  Other ideals emerge from the structures and practices of Marlboro as an intentional academic community, though they may not come primarily from work in the classroom – clear oral expression and debate is key to most classroom discussion, but also essential to effective work in Town Meeting and on committees. 

  • Independent and Responsible Learning
  • Clarity in Communications
  • Imagination and Participation in Inquiry and Research
  • Thoughtful and Fair Analysis
  • Grit
  • Cultural Perspective
  • Citizenship
  • Health in Life and Work
  • Ethical Courage

Read the full description of Ideals approved by Faculty

The Plan of Concentration

Third year at Marlboro marks the start of students’ Plan work. Students and their Plan sponsors collaborate to map out a course of study that includes Plan-related courses and tutorials as well as a few courses unrelated to Plan. During their second semester, some students choose to do an internship or embark on an off-campus experience, such as study abroad. By semester’s end, students submit their final Plan application. 

During their last year at Marlboro, students are fully focused on their Plan of Concentration. Courses are weighted toward tutorials directly related to their Plan, and students and Plan sponsors meet regularly to discuss progress, tackle challenges, redirect focus when necessary, and review and refine the final Plan project. The Plan experience culminates with an oral defense, during which students formally present their Plan of Concentration to their faculty sponsor(s) and an outside evaluator who is an expert in the subject area.

For a more in-depth, year-by-year description of the Marlboro academic journey, please reference the Marlboro Coursebook and Plan Guide