What’s Your Major Malfunction?
September 7th, 2017
The stress and indecision inherent in choosing a major
If you’re a university student, then you’ve probably put some thought into choosing your major. Maybe you’ve known since high school. Maybe you’ve known since you were twelve years old. Regardless, come second-year, students are tasked with a momentous declaration that will inevitably shape their future education and career path.
For Nick Bruce, now an English major at UBCO, choosing a major is analogous with choosing a career. Before University, he worked in the trades, then later he considered going to school for power engineering and software development. “There was definitely a lot of pressure to decide on a career path,” he said. “I tried a few different ones… Basically, as soon as I decided to be a teacher I knew English would be my major.”
For another UBCO student, who wishes to remain unnamed, choosing a major and sticking to it is a matter of financial management. “I know people who switched their major multiple times,” he said. “Courses are expensive and if you do a few years in a major and decide you do not like it… that is a lot of money that got flushed.”
A student who decides to switch majors is also left with a large number of credits that cannot be counted toward the new major. That means more time in the classroom to finish the degree and more money spent building toward the new discipline.
“Come second-year, students are tasked with a momentous declaration that will inevitably shape their future education and career path.”
But then there are students, like Emily Fochler, who feel little stress when it comes time to choose a major. “I think what is most stressful,” she said, “is when you tell people you’re majoring in English, or the arts in general, and people say ‘well there aren’t many good paying jobs with that, you should go into business or the sciences…’ It makes you feel like you made the wrong choice even if it’s what you really want to do.” For her it made sense to pursue a subject she is passionate about, even if that meant having to choose between two. “I had tried out a couple majors before making a final decision. I originally began a major in English and then I switched to Theatre… I ended up going back to English because it is one hundred percent my passion to read and write and enjoy literature.”
Whether a major is chosen out of a passion for the discipline or the desire for future financial security, few would argue the choice is of little importance. Declaring a major today seems a rite of passage for students, a harbinger of a completed degree, and, hopefully, a well-paying job.