Why You Should Do an Independent Project
Many students elect to do some form of independent work before they graduate. This can come in all forms. Students complete graduate theses, which are independent research projects, tailored to a specific topic within their majors. Students can also design their own independent study courses, creating a combination of disciplines and subject matter not available in other courses. You may also be interested in completing a project that does not fulfill an academic credit. Although the reasons for taking on an independent project vary, there are some benefits that will always come from this kind of work.
An independent project or independent-study course looks great on your resume. This is a signal to both future grad schools and employers that you not only take your education seriously, but also have personal interests that you want to pursue. Having completed a project of large magnitude on your own is a great indication that you are already well-suited for the academic demands of graduate school.
Working on an independent project will also give you the opportunity to explore working on your own as well as collaboratively. There is a good chance that, even if you are designing your own course or are experimenting independently, you will work closely with a professor or mentor who oversees the project. It is also possible that your independent work will be a part of a larger project, such as costume design for a university production. No matter what you will be doing, you will have the chance to work closely with some like-minded people in order to get the work done. This will help you gain valuable experience in taking responsibility for your own contribution, while meshing your work with a common goal, much like any professional situation you will encounter in the future.
Most importantly, though, independent work will allow you to place an intense focus on an area of personal interest to you. This is a great opportunity to explore directions that you are considering in grad school or professional work and finely tune your interests. If you have a horrible experience with your independent study topic, you have at least been able to experience a particular path of specialization before you commit years. You will also get a chance to showcase your point of view on a particular subject, if you desire to do so. Great theses can open doors to excellent universities for post graduate work, so, if you have something to say, you now have the opportunity to say it.