Why should a student ever consider such an option? In my case, I'm pursuing an IS in the spring with a professor who had to cancel a course I was enrolled in to teach another one instead (so I'm taking a condensed version of the class I'd originally opted). Another example; one of my peers did an independent study on public health and maternity after becoming interested in the topic while abroad. Frequently when I've known students doing an independent study, it's because they're motivated to learn more about a specific topic, and usually they're topics that a professor has studied but for which a class is not offered regularly.
From the college's website:
"Independent research is encouraged by the College as a complement to regular coursework for qualified students. Independent Study courses are available in certain circumstances and require a 3.0 minimum quality point average during the academic year. Independent study must be approved by the Associate Dean of the College no later than the last day of the course change period."
Further, IS is not an opportunity to slack; after all it's like class, except you're the only student. Blowing off reading and papers isn't really an option, and I imagine successful students doing an IS need to be focused and self-motivated.
What is this all to say? If you're really into learning, if you're very interested in a professor's work, if you're motivated to learn more about a certain topic, or if you'd like to develop more learning on a topic from another class, you should totally pursue an independent study. Obviously, it's not the case that IS courses can be offered to every student every semester, but it's an excellent idea if the opportunity presents itself.
If you're curious about the process or my own motivation for pursuing an IS, feel free to shoot me an email. If you have more specific questions, you can visit the registrar in founders to have those answered.
Thanks for reading!