Selecting a major can be difficult, and students share their opinions and strategies
“It’s a completely different ballgame here,” said Manda TenHoor (’13).
TenHoor went into college knowing what she wanted to major in. She was sure of her career aspirations to do missionary nursing in India, and because of that the thought of even wanting to switch majors scared her. TenHoor chose Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, because of it’s nursing program, but for many others the college and major decision isn’t all that easy.
The college decision can be a stressful one that marks one more step in the transition from childhood to adulthood and independence. This decision becomes even more complicated as the pressure builds when others wonder and ask about future occupational plans. For high school freshmen, the thought of college and majors seems far off while for seniors it flashes in front of their eyes. But college students are situated right in the middle attempting to figure out if changing their current major is the next best step. In a recent poll, Minnehaha’s seniors shared their intended majors. Of the 102 students, 27 percent believe they will major in some sort of science, 13 percent are undecided, 15 percent plan on going into business and advertising and the list goes on.
According to Forbes, the top 15 majors of 2013-2014, measured by the number of students, are in engineering, mathematics and science. In engineering the annual salary ranges from $88,000 to $155,000 and the other top majors correlate with higher salaries. The prospect of financial stability is a big factor for students entering these areas of study, but the outlook of a wide range of job opportunities are an even bigger invitation.
US News wrote in an article about majors, “employers are looking for students with a background in several traditional fields….” This statement seems rather general, but it carries a lot of weight.
Traditional occupations include communications, education, farming and air transportation. These occupations are in high demand and seemingly always will be.
At Minnehaha Academy, students are set up to begin learning about college and majors from freshman year on. Starting sophomore year, AP courses are offered, junior year ACT/SAT testing is in full swing, and senior year students send in college applications and wait for responses.
For current high school freshman Eli Aronson, the plan is to major in education. Aronson has a general interest in teaching and believes majoring in English or history could be part of his future post-secondary education goals.
“[I’ve] had that interest since fourth grade,” said Aronson. “A culmination of a lot of teachers helped me see the major impact they can have [in students’ lives].”
Aronson came from City of Lakes Waldorf School, where students have the same teacher from first grade to eighth grade. This extended period of time allows the relationship between a student and a teacher to strengthen. Aronson hasn’t had many opportunities that get closer to his major of choice, but he is “fairly certain” that teaching is what he wants to do. Though Aronson seems determined to follow the path he has set for himself, he desires to have fun in activities such as theatre, and also to explore different avenues of study.
Aronson’s openness is what senior Alex Lindberg hopes all underclassmen will preserve as the years progress. Lindberg will be attending Bethel University this upcoming fall.
“I thought I would be a chef and own my own restaurant,” said Lindberg as he reminisced about his freshman year. “But now I’m planning on going into photography with an art emphasis. I want to be a professional photographer.”
Lindberg switched partially due to his choice of college and partially due to the course of his high school experience. The time in between freshman and senior year allowed Lindberg to realize how important photography is in his life. Lindberg takes photographs for Minnehaha’s newspaper and yearbook and also just for fun. If he had simply stuck with the plan to become a chef, he might not have explored photography.
Lindberg’s decisiveness is one that can be looked up to by others who have no idea what the future holds, but Marquette University admissions counselor Matt Campbell gave some advice to both the decided and undecided: “Don’t be afraid to try out many different classes and majors before settling in on one. Most four-year institutions allow you the flexibility to test the waters in a few majors before a final decision must be made (while still graduating on time).”
TenHoor agrees with Campbell and believes that even the most planned out goal can be altered.
For TenHoor, choosing a major has been a journey. Her freshman and sophomore years in high school were a time when she imagined herself as a music and business major. But when junior year came, nursing became a bigger interest. TenHoor took classes such as Anatomy and Physiology to set herself on the right track as her interest in nursing continued to grow. After graduating, she went straight into nursing in the beginning of this 2013-2014 school year. Many times during the year, she wanted to quit, but each time she reevaluated her reasons.
“I was going to quit because [the work] was so hard,” said TenHoor. “But since I was able to get through my first semester classes, I realized if I can put up with this amount of work, and if I can do what I love, then the end goal keeps me focused.”
US News gives five steps that may aid students in choosing the right major: first, wait until college; second, don’t wait too long after that; third, be curious; fourth, make sure there’s certainty and passion; fifth, know the exceptions, because some majors require more years of school.
Aronson, Lindberg and even TenHoor still have time to change their minds and TenHoor urges students to give their choice time.
“It doesn’t matter if you have a major in mind,” said Tenhoor. “The chances of it changing are so high. There’s no point in worrying because it will all work out.”
At Minnehaha the senior class took a survey in early May and shared their expected majors.