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Students tailor education to needs

Students from all majors are also encouraged to take advantage of UCLA's study abroad options...UCLA is currently ranked second in the nation of schools that send students abroad.

By Heather Rabkin, a Daily Bruin contributor

A UCLA education is never exactly the same for every student because of the multitude of academic options available to undergraduates both on campus and elsewhere.

UCLA provides students with a variety of ways to enrich their academic education – from interdepartmental majors to study abroad programs to academic tutorials – by allowing students to tailor their education to their own interests and needs.

One popular program is Academics in the Commons, situated in Covel Commons. Its offerings include a peer advising network, tutorial services and workshops.

Tutorial labs in math and science are free and open to students on a first-come, first-served basis. English composition and English as a second language tutors are also available.

"Students need to remember that tutorial services are not for people who need remedial help; they are for students who want As in their classes," said Bruce Barbee, director of the program. "It's a smart thing people do."

Though many incoming students may think they do not need outside help, Barbee believes it can be very important.

"I think many people are really, really used to being really, really successful in high school. They need to be to get here, but once they get here, they begin to doubt themselves," he said.

Another program geared toward helping students is the Academic Advancement Program, which serves more than 6,000 students. Students can receive counseling, academic advising, tutoring and social support, said Masai Minters, the associate director of AAP.

Eligibility for AAP depends on a student's academic profile and personal background, among other things. Once a student becomes part of AAP, however, they remain in the program for the rest of their time at UCLA.

An increasingly popular option for those trying to choose an area of study are the university's nine interdepartmental majors, which allow students to explore different fields within one major.

"Students enrolled in our interdepartmental degree programs are challenged with foreign language competency, interdisciplinary coursework, international internships and a myriad of study abroad opportunities," said Jill Schliefer, director of external affairs for the International Institute.

The newest interdepartmental program, the global studies major and minor, began this past year.

"In departments, you study one area of the world or one subject, such as history. But in (interdepartmental programs), you study different things, countries, places, themes, issues, taught by faculty from all different departments who take a given issue and approach it from a multiplicity of perspectives," said Professor Dominic Thomas, lead instructor of the first global studies class.

Thomas says the most beneficial part of the global studies program is its ability to unite students from across the university.

"The class benefits from students coming from radically different backgrounds and training," Thomas said. "You meet people you might not usually meet on campus. It's more like a global village than an isolated faction."

Students from all majors are also encouraged to take advantage of UCLA's study abroad options, including the Education Abroad Program, Travel Study and internship programs.

UCLA is currently ranked second in the nation of schools that send students abroad, said Gary Rhodes, administrative director of UCLA EAP.

EAP is open to all UCLA students, and frequently the only prerequisite is a minimum GPA requirement that ranges from a 2.5 to a 3.0, depending on the program.

There are 35 countries in which students can study, and according to the EAP Web site, less than half of the programs require individuals to be fluent in a foreign language, and many institutions teach their courses in English.

Education Abroad Program