Question: I am a Communication Studies major and just took a course called Media Effects. I was really interested in the aspect about the impact of media on violence amongst children. However, there are no courses available in this field of study. Any advice for how I can learn more about this topic?

Answer: If no classes are available in a topic you are passionate about, consider creating an independent study course. An independent study course is a unique opportunity to design a course based on your specific interests and to study individually with a professor. You may have an interest in a particular subject area that is not offered in the college curriculum or that does not receive the intense focus that you desire. You might be intrigued by one aspect of a course you have taken, and want to study that particular issue more in depth. An independent study will allow you the opportunity to design your own course syllabus to focus on the exact subject matter in which you are most interested. With this course, you can choose to either write many papers or take exams, depending on your preference. You can read more extensively rather than worry about all of the typical assignments and quizzes in a normal class. To get permission to do an independent study, you need to find a faculty member who will oversee your course and meet with you throughout the semester. This faculty member should think highly of you and have an interest and background in the subject matter you want to study. You need to design the course and the requirements with input and approval from the faculty member. You must also have a burning interest in that topic, and ensure it is not offered anywhere else on campus. Make sure you follow through on every aspect of your independent study and make the process as smooth and easy as possible for the faculty member. If you are a motivated and organized student, this could be a great opportunity for you to get credit for learning about a topic you are most passionate about, with a faculty member you respect, and in the manner you know best.

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