Academic Statement

Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction

The Process

Support

Deadlines and Recordkeeping

More Information

Introduction

What is an Academic Statement?

An Academic Statement is an essay of no more than 750 words in which you document your college education.  You begin this reflective statement by writing an Entrance Essay during Orientation Week when you first enroll at Evergreen.  As your fund of knowledge grows, you’ll annually rework your statement with faculty guidance.  Periodic revisions will enable you to consider carefully how you are shaping your liberal arts education.  You’ll also be encouraged to consider how your education bears on one of the central responsibilities of citizenship:  making public commitments to your community and to the future.  By the time you graduate, you will have created a transcript-ready Academic Statement. 

Who is required to write an Academic Statement?

The Academic Statement is a graduation requirement for all Evergreen undergraduates admitted in fall 2013 and thereafter.

Why aren’t graduate students required to write Academic Statements?

The Academic Statement is a requirement for Evergreen’s undergraduates.  Students in graduate programs are not required by the College to write Academic Statements.  However, graduate program faculty may assign them, and even if they don’t, graduate students may choose to write them.  If you are a graduate student, consider writing an Academic Statement that will serve your purposes after you complete your Master’s degree.  You may want to briefly encapsulate, frame, and define your educational journey.  You might emphasize to potential readers (employers, graduate/professional school reps, your future self) the major themes of what you learned, the plan you instituted in tackling your education (or came to as a result of it), and the professional and academic growth and real capabilities you gained. This may benefit you in your chosen field or profession.   

The Process

Why does Evergreen require students to write an Academic Statement in order to graduate?

Evergreen has no credit distribution requirements.  Each student has a great deal of freedom to follow, discover, and create a sense of direction.  Students choose programs, classes, independent contracts, and internships that construct a unique path to earning a college degree.  By offering this freedom, Evergreen invites all students to take responsibility for their academic choices, and to do so in an informed, reflective manner.   An Academic Statement enables students to document how they have used their freedom, and to explain the meaning of their education to readers of their college transcripts. 

In crafting your Academic Statement, you pause regularly and consider your education as a whole.  Several times over the years before you graduate, you carefully look back at what you’ve learned, look ahead to what you plan to learn, and imagine what your work and your life might be in the future.  By the time you are ready to graduate, you will have practiced thinking about and reflecting on your work.  You might find yourself able to articulate a path which, for many of you, was not in your mind at the beginning.  You might write an essay that demonstrates a way of thinking about what matters to you.  The specific content of your Academic Statement is up to you.  You have the freedom to represent yourself in writing as you see fit.

How does the Academic Statement requirement relate to Evergreen’s distinctive pedagogy and modes of learning?

This new requirement extends and deepens an old Evergreen practice.  Before the College first opened its doors in 1971, the founding faculty decided to assess student work with narrative evaluations rather than letter grades and grade point averages.  Over 40 years later, we are still committed to helping students write, regularly and in depth, about what they learn.  The Academic Statement casts a wider net than an evaluation of a specific course of study.  Its aim is to enable you to capture, in a single culminating 750-word document, the trajectory of your education as a whole.

Why does the statement require an updated draft each year?
Wouldn’t it be easier to just write it at the conclusion of my academic career?

An Evergreen education is distinctive, in part, because we practice evaluating academic work in writing.  “Practice” means that we evaluate as a habit of mind.  For each course of study you undertake, you receive a narrative evaluation of your work from your faculty, and you write a narrative self-evaluation of your own work.  The Academic Statement requires multiple drafts so that you can periodically pause, look over ALL your work thus far by reviewing all your evaluations, and consciously reflect on your accomplishments.  You’ll find that, when you sit down to write about the work you’ve done, you will think anew about your aims and plans as your education changes you over time. 

How much should my Academic Statement focus on my particular field of study and future career?

The answer to this question will vary among Evergreen students.  Some students know, from the moment they enter the College, what they plan to do.  They find faculty who will help them learn what they want to learn, and they are off and running.  Many other students, however, wish to explore a wide range of fields and take programs and classes that expose them to many modes of inquiry and interdisciplinary learning experiences.  Sometimes they come to focus on a field that they were never interested in before. 

When you are in your early college years, your Academic Statement is an “in-house” document that serves to help you think about your education and figure out your sense of direction.  If you already have a clear educational path in mind, the statement enables you to learn how to articulate that path and plan how you will follow it through to graduation and beyond.  In either case, by the time you become a senior, you will be in a very different place than you were at the start.  You will be in that new place, in part, because you have stopped every now and then to think, reflect on, and write about the whole of your education.

Your final Academic Statement becomes, in many ways, the most important document in your transcript.  It illuminates the content of your transcript for people whom you do not yet know:  future employers, graduate school admission committees, directors of non-profit organizations, and so on.  You may also choose to enter it in the annual Academic Statement Writing Contest.  Students at all undergraduate levels are invited to enter.

When do I begin my Academic Statement?

Students new to the College begin their statements during Orientation Week by writing an Entrance Essay.  This piece of writing is not an admission essay, which may be submitted with your application before you are accepted to college.  In contrast, you write the Entrance Essay after you’ve been admitted and when you first arrive on campus.  In keeping with Evergreen’s belief that learning is a continuous, life-long endeavor, we respect what you learned before you came here.  During Orientation Week, the College conducts focused sessions, led by faculty, in which you start to write about what you have already learned, and what you hope to learn and accomplish while you are a student at Evergreen.  That writing—your Entrance Essay—becomes the first building block toward your Academic Statement.
Returning students who started attending Evergreen before the Academic Statement requirement began are encouraged to start an Academic Statement, using previous self-evaluations as inspiration.

What are self-evaluations and what do I do with them after I write them?

We believe that reflection and self-evaluation are fundamental to deep learning.  We encourage personal engagement, expect you to articulate and take responsibility for your work, and make time for you to deepen your learning by reflecting on the personal and social significance of your work.  Everyone at Evergreen writes self-evaluations:  faculty, staff, administrators, and even the president.  

You are required to write a self-evaluation at the end of each quarter, and to give a copy to your primary faculty.  You have the option of including any or all of your self-evaluations in your transcript, but you are not required to do so.  You’ll save your self-evaluations on the College’s On-Line Record System for future reference.  These documents will be very useful when you work on your Academic Statement each year.

What is the relationship between my Academic Statement and my self-evaluations?

Self-evaluations focus on your learning and achievement during enrollment in a single program, course, independent learning contract, internship, or student originated study.  Your self-evaluation is particular to a specific learning experience.  In contrast, your Academic Statement is about the whole of your college education.  In it, you can document, explain, and reveal the overall shape and coherence of your work in college. 

Who is the audience for my Academic Statement?

In the early years of your college education, the audience is mainly yourself, student colleagues, academic advisors, and faculty.  You may also want to share your Academic Statement with others (friends, family members) and ask them to comment on it.  Keep in mind that these early versions are works-in-progress leading to the final version, which becomes part of your college transcript.

The audience for your Academic Statement will change when you graduate from the College.  Most of your readers will be people whom you don’t know:  prospective graduate schools, scholarship committees, employers, or anyone else who requires you to provide your official college transcript.  Remember that your transcript is a public document that represents you as a college graduate with a liberal arts education. 

What am I required to do with my Academic Statement in order to graduate from the College?

Students who have been admitted as of fall 2013 or after are required to submit a final Academic Statement to the College in order to graduate.  You submit it through the On-Line Record System under “Academic Statement.”

What is the difference between the Academic Statement and the summative self-evaluation?

The Academic Statement replaces and improves on the summative self-evaluation.  The summative self-evaluation was optional.  In contrast, the Academic Statement is a graduation requirement.  Another key difference is that students work on their Academic Statements, with faculty support, regularly throughout their education.  Writing about your education will help you figure out your path through the College while you are blazing it.

Support

Who oversees support for the Academic Statement?

The College has established a group of faculty, staff, and students called the Mentor Council to oversee support for the Academic Statement.  This standing committee plans Orientation Week, gathers support materials for students and faculty, administers All-Campus Mentoring Days in winter and spring, and judges the annual Academic Statement Essay Contest.  The Mentor Council meets regularly.  You can contact the Mentor Council if you have any questions or concerns about anything related to the Academic Statement and its support structures.

How does Orientation Week support work on my Academic Statement?

Orientation Week is a series of meetings, social events, and sessions with Evergreen faculty and staff that takes place every fall during the week before classes begin.  Its aim is to welcome and introduce new students to the College.  Orientation includes All-Campus Convocation, when the entire campus is invited to come together to begin the academic year.  The highlight of this event is a plenary talk by the author of our common text.  After Convocation, Evergreen’s faculty lead several sessions entitled “Your Education and Your Academic Statement.”  These sessions introduce you to academics, the College’s philosophy, and the aims of liberal arts education.  You’ll also start to get to know faculty and other students, have seminar discussions, write your Entrance Essay, and learn about the Academic Statement.  There are sessions designed especially for students enrolled in Evening and Weekend Studies classes, in the Tacoma Program, and in the Reservation-Based Community Determined Program.  Students who are admitted in winter and spring will have access to abbreviated Orientation activities, and will be able to see the Convocation speaker’s address on line.

Why should I attend Orientation if I’m a transfer student?

Transfer students bring a great deal of experience and knowledge to Evergreen.  Because our structures, pedagogy, and modes of learning are quite unique, even if you are a transfer student you are required to attend Orientation in order to learn how to make the most of what Evergreen has to offer. 

When will I have support from faculty for writing my Academic Statement?

During fall quarter, every program of 8 credits or more will spend several hours helping you to think about and craft your Academic Statement.  You’ll spend time with your program faculty and student colleagues taking a pause from your program content to think broadly about your education as a whole.  Faculty will help you consider how your current work figures in your upcoming plans, think about the aims and meaning of a liberal arts education, and articulate your path toward graduation.

What are All-Campus Mentoring Days?

On one day every winter and spring quarter, faculty conduct workshops to support academic planning for the rest of your college education and beyond.  Topics include preparing for graduate school, planning senior theses or “capstone” projects, conducting advanced study in particular fields, writing Academic Statements, improving your general skills as a college student, and so on.  During 2013-14, All-Campus Mentoring Days will be held on February 19th and May 14th.  Students in the Reservation-based Community Determined program and in the Tacoma program are welcome to attend these sessions.  The College also offers a smaller menu of sessions for Evening/Weekend Studies students.  Here is a link to the most recent All-Campus Mentoring Day schedule. 

Who will review and approve my Academic Statement—both the work-in-progress and the final version?

Your Academic Statement will be reviewed annually by one of your program faculty or your sponsor during fall quarter, and throughout the year by anyone else to whom you chose to show it:  fellow students, friends, advisors, tutors, family members, All-Campus Mentoring Day faculty and participants—in short, anyone whom you trust to give honest and useful commentary.  No one approves your statement:  you are the final judge of your own work.

What support is available for students who are not in a program, and who are doing either Internships, Individual Learning Contracts, or only courses?

If you are enrolled in an Individual Learning Contract or an Internship Learning Contract for at least half-time in the fall, your contract sponsor will be your primary faculty support.  You and your sponsor will decide how you can best receive that support, so be sure to ask about it.  During fall quarter, some faculty members may ask their contract students to attend the sessions in their programs that are dedicated to supporting the Academic Statement.   During winter and spring, you are encouraged to attend All-Campus Mentoring Days on February 19 and May 14, when faculty will conduct sessions to support Academic Statement writing.

If you are enrolled entirely in courses during fall quarter, you will receive a letter from the Dean of Evening and Weekend Studies that will outline your options. You may want to have a conversation about your Academic Statement with some of your course faculty.

All students doing contracts, internships, or courses will find support on the page and through The Writing Center

What support is available for students who are studying in Tacoma, in the Reservation-Based Community-Determined program, or on an Individual Learning Contract or Internship away from the Olympia campus?

Your main support will be from your faculty members. In addition, you may want to make considerable use of online resources, including workshops and guidelines for reviewing your documents. You can also contact the members of the Mentor Council for additional support.

How do I connect with other students about the Academic Statement, particularly if I am either looking for peer support or available to provide peer support?

Your best community for thinking about your Academic Statement is your program.  In the fall, you work together on writing and refining your statements.  The Writing Center’s tutors are fellow students who will be conducting workshops during the year.  Contact The Writing Center to find out about them.  But perhaps the best strategy is simply to ask students whom you meet if they have started their statements, and get curious about reading them.  Have a meal together, read each other’s statements-in-progress, and talk about them.  You’ll learn a lot about how you want to write your statement by reading those of your colleagues and discussing them together.  

Deadlines and Recordkeeping

When is my Academic Statement due?

Your final Academic Statement is due during the quarter that you graduate from Evergreen.  Interim statements are due before registration opens in the spring for the following academic year.  You are required to submit your interim statement each spring in order to register for the following fall. 

How do I keep track of my evaluations and the annual iterations of my Academic Statement?

On my.evergreen.edu you will find a link to your evaluations and to your Academic Statement.  There, you can keep all the documents that relate to your transcript:  your self-evaluations, faculty evaluations of your work, and the most recent draft of your Academic Statement.  Be sure to keep earlier drafts on your computer, on a thumb drive, or in a file folder so you can refer to them in the future.  You’ll also find a list of your earned quarter hours of college credit in specific fields.

More Information

Whom do I contact if I have questions that aren’t answered here?

Write to the Mentor Council.  This committee of faculty, staff and students meets regularly, and is dedicated to overseeing Academic Statement practices and policies.  The College is committed to ensuring that all students have the support they need to write their Academic Statements.