The Educational Design Process

How does the individualized design process begin?

The Educational Design process lies at the heart of the Whittier Scholars Program. Each year, Whittier Scholars students participate in individualized mentoring checkpoints that focus on maximizing their college experience and connecting their choices to their evolving life and career goals. This post discusses the first stage of the process, the Educational Design Defense.
Beginning in WSP101, students envision goals by discovering more about their career and life interests. In WSP201, students select and plan the components of their education, including courses, majors/minors, studying away, internships, and other on- and off-campus experiences. At the end of WSP201,  each Whittier Scholar student presents their individual design to members of the Whittier Scholars Council. This “defense” yields a flexible, individualized college plan that includes not only courses, majors and minors, but also ideas for fellowship opportunities to pursue as well as plans for “test driving” their education through carefully selected off-campus experiences, and an initial concept of an extended capstone project for senior year.
Educational Design Defenses take place during or immediately following your WSP201 course. You must complete the Educational Design Meeting to receive credit for WPS201. The Whittier Scholars Design Defense is a one hour in-depth discussion between you and two faculty members based on the plan you create in Dashboard in your WSP201 class.  Your plan must include 3-5 Educational Goals, course lists that satisfy the WSP Breadth requirements and delineate your major(s) (and minors, if planned), and a narrative that explains what you want to achieve. 

What happens at the Educational Design Defense meeting?

 Your defense will be scheduled for one hour, though it may take less. It will be chaired by either the Director or Associate Director of Whittier Scholars, and at least one faculty member of the Whittier Scholars Council will participate as well. Together, the faculty represent the “Design Board” who are empowered to review and decide whether your design merits approval. If you chose to invite your faculty advisor, they will be there as well. Before your defense, everyone will read your Educational Design, and they will ask you questions during your meeting about your plans, your goals, your choices. For this reason, ensure that the documents you submit represent your finest work. 

Usually, the defense begins with you explaining what your intended major will focus on, and why it’s the right choice for you. Then faculty members will ask you questions and make suggestions, based both on what you say and also on the documents you submitted. They may make suggestions, or they may require changes. Meetings always cover the following topics:

  1. Your major or majors (and any minors you plan)
  2. What you hope or plan to do after college.
  3. Your intended graduation date (for planning purposes)
  4. Your Educational Goals
  5. Your plans for your off-campus experience
  6. Your initial ideas for a capstone project
  7. Which courses will provide you with the methods that define your field, and when you need to take them.
  8. WSP required courses.
  9. How your planned coursework satisfies the WSP breadth requirements.
At the end of your meeting, the Chair will consult with other faculty present to determine if the design, including any changes that have been agreed upon, meets the requirements for graduation from Whittier College. If all agree, you have successfully defended your proposal! You’ll probably need to make a few changes and submit a final version within a few weeks following your meeting. Finally, be sure to Declare the WSP program (using the Registrar’s forms to declare your major) so that you’ll see your requirements on DegreeWorks.

To schedule your meeting:

1. First, download your “Full Educational Design” from Dashboard. Click “My Data” and then “pdf” (see screenshot below).
2. Print out and complete the Educational Design Meeting Scheduling Form  by proposing at least 3 hour-long meeting times that you are available. Most meetings are scheduled for Thursdays between 12:30 and 1:20pm. If that time does not work for you, please speak with your WSP201 professor right away.
3. If you want your advisor to attend as well, check the box and only indicate times that work for BOTH of you.
4. Attach the pdf of your Design (step #1) to the form and click submit. 

Appointments are first come first serve, and usually take a few days to confirm. Once your appointment is confirmed, you will receive notification with additional information about how to prepare. Please remember to check your email for communications from And finally — as always — drop in if any of us can help you!n  who are