Choosing my Academic Path

Quest is a unique university since it does have one-word, pre-programmed majors. Instead, all students formulate their own majors in the form of a Question, which is influenced by our own academic passions, outside interests, and career goals.

Students near the end of the Foundation Program must take a block dedicated to the development of their “Question.” Undergraduate students select a faculty mentor to help develop their Questions. According to the Quest website, faculty mentors assist students in selecting upper-year courses and experiential learning opportunities for a deep and meaningful exploration of their Question in the Concentration Program.

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Photo retrieved from huffingtonpost.com

I took Question block this month, and since today was the last day of the course I will highlight major events that happened during each week of the course.

On the first day of the course, the main assignment was the précis. This is a summary of one to three interests that might lead to potential Questions, even though it is expected that our area of focus of the question may change. The précis is considered as the ticket to the course and our Faculty Advisor must sign it well in advance. Writing the précis before taking this course was the first time I actually got to sit down and write what I am interested in. It made me realize what I like, what I do not like, and what potential courses I want to take.

On the first day, Colin (my Question block tutor) introduced to us the Question Proposal. This document is made up of several components including a personal and academic statement, course plan, potential experiential learning opportunities, and Keystone project ideas. The Question Proposal is the text that the students, in cooperation with their mentor, refine into a plan for the last two years at Quest. Throughout the block we wrote and rewrote, deleted large portions of the text, researched, and revised. It was/is a long process that began from the moment I wrote the précis and will go on until I take the Keystone block at the end of my fourth year. We had many opportunities to receive feedback on our work from peers and tutors and used this feedback to revise our work.

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Photo retrieved from Vancouversun.com

Throughout the week we did numerous activies such as elevator pitch, peer editing, and more. By the end of the week, most of the students had a pretty clear idea of their area of interest, thus, we got separated into groups based on our interests. We had a library session with our lovely librarian, Kathryn, who helped us find helpful scientific journals, contemporary readings, and how to find books in a large library. Librarians at Quest have always been very helpful, which was amazing especially when I first came to Quest and had no idea how to find books in a University library (sounds like a future blog idea).

On the second week, both Question classes went on a field trip to the library of Simon Fraser University (SFU). Quest has a reciprocity agreement with SFU, where we get a libray card and are able to check out up to 50 books from SFU. Before going to the library, we all needed to have a library research plan which consisted of a minimum five books including the location, full bibliography, and call number. While we needed to have a minimum of five books, I was amazed how most of the students had much more than that.

After spending numerous hours searching around the library and picking out relevant books, we all met near the car and headed back to Quest. I loved how almost every student had a bag full of books, and were discussing them all the way back to Quest. I am constantly amazed by the level of engagement and passion Quest students show about academics. It truly is an amazing place to study!

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Simon Fraser University (SFU). Photo retrieved from wikipedia.com

 

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Daniel, Katie, Ellie, and I excited after finding so many good books at SFU. Photo by our tutor, Colin Bates.

Week three began with more assignments, which are the components ought to be part of the Question proposal. We had to write our course plan including the remaining foundation courses, electives, and personal focus courses. In addition, we had to come up with two possible experiential learning plans. Each Quest student is required to take between one to four experiential learning blocks. These blocks can include varied experiences, and need to be approved by their faculty advisor, or as appropriate, another Quest tutor.

The last two days of the third week, each student that took Question block in January had to give a 12-minute presentation. These presentations were open to anyone from the school, Squamish community, and family and friends.

The last two days of the third week, each student that took Question block in January had to give a 12-minute presentation. These presentations were open to anyone from the school, Squamish community, and family and friends. I presented on Thursday, and got to attend all the presentation throughout the day. Based on the presentation and answers of insightful question, it was clear that students had put a lot of work into them.

Week fours consisted of mostly meetings with our course tutor, prospective mentors, and continuous revising of the Question Proposal. It is unbelievable that today was the last day of the course. As I reflect back from the first day up to today, I have improved on numerous skills such as researching techniques, public speaking skills, and writing.

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Katie, my roommate, presenting her Question proposal.
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A picture with our Question block tutor, Colin Bates. Colin throughout the block was approachable, helpful, and always gave us clear advice and comments.

Numerous Quest students have previously written blogs about Question block.

Daniel wrote a blog about Question during the first week of the course. He talks about his area of interest, which is general Artificial Intelligence. You can find Daniel’s blog here.
Sarah wrote about Question block as well, including her moments of confusion, enlightenment, and downright fear. You can find her blog here.
SaraMae also wrote about on this topic, where she carefully explains what this block is and when students generally take it. She also explains how she found that she has an interest in obstetrics, midwifery, psychology, and anthropology. You can find her blog here.

 

-Poema

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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