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  • Writer's pictureNancy Adis

Rochester Curriculum Gives Students Flexibility & Choice

The University of Rochester is a private research university offering over 100 academic programs of study, from the traditional to the self-designed. They have a unique open curriculum that gives students the freedom to explore courses across many subjects and tailor their learning to a wide range of interests—from medicine to music to engineering. Beyond the one required writing course, students complete requirements for their major, two cluster area requirements, and then choose their own academic path of courses. This large amount of student choice is very different than the usual general studies or core requirements, and Rochester students say it’s the #1 reason they choose the university. 

11,000 students from all across the country and over 40 other countries attend this college which is located in Western New York, in downtown Rochester, a city with a population of 750,000 known for a focus on medicine and high tech industry with a thriving arts scene. The university offers shuttles between their varied campuses and the affiliated medical center.  UR Medical boasts specialists in every area of medicine and Upstate New York's largest biomedical research program.

As a research university there are many opportunities for undergrads and 77% of them participate in some sort of research. In addition to offering combined degree programs, Rochester has two unique extension options that students can apply for:

*The Take Five Scholars Program in which students stay a fifth year tuition-free to pursue more of their academic interests in research or experiential learning projects; and 

*The Experiential Five Program (E5) - in this project-based program select students can use a free fifth year to pursue an internship or develop a business plan to pursue their big ideas. 

While studying what they love, Rochester students can also partake in 200+ student organizations, 23 NCAA Division III sports teams, and many offerings at the famous Eastman School of Music, including private music lessons and attending world-class performances.

The college’s motto is Meliora - a Latin word for “ever better” - as a community they strive to be better for everyone, with a focus on helping the world and having a vision for the future. There is an annual fall Meliora Weekend which is a combined reunion, homecoming, and family weekend with speakers, learning opportunities and events to socialize and celebrate the Yellowjacket family.

Finally, if you are wondering what kind of students Rochester is looking for, this is directly from their website:  “We seek and embrace the most tenacious and unconventional applicants from around the world to join our community of doers and disrupters!”

At Confident College Planning we help students and families find the colleges and universities which match up best with their interests and experiences by supporting clients with college list development, application steps, and essay formation and editing.  There are many options out there and we can help minimize the stress often felt during the college selection process by taking a planful approach.  Email me at to have a conversation about ways I can help!

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