How “major” is your major?

Natalie Spears, Special Features Editor

It’s that time of year again. Sophomores at the University are in the process of declaring their majors, which can seem like a daunting and life-altering decision. The major one chooses ostensibly paves the way for his or her future in and out of college. Many factors influence a student’s choice of major, and for some, the decision can be an extremely difficult one. The University offers a myriad of major options within all three schools, making the commitment to just one (or two) even harder. Current sophomores majoring in various fields offer words of wisdom on their decision-making process.

Alex Lord ’18Global Management

Why did you choose your major?

I chose this major because it fit the most with my interest in international business. I also want to go into that type of industry when I graduate so it made a lot of sense for me to major in it. I knew I wanted this to be my major when I came into Bucknell.

How important do you think a student’s major is for life after college?

I think that a student’s major is an important factor in their life after college. I’ve heard it both ways—that your major could or could not have a big effect on your career track. There is always the possibility of graduate school or getting a doctorate, but I think that to have a strong base in the field that you think you will want to go into is so vital when speaking with possible employers coming out of college.

Do you have any advice for students who are undeclared/still deciding?

My advice to students who are undeclared or are still deciding is to really dive into the areas that interest you. Take classes in your fields of interest and talk with the professors. They can be so helpful in realizing what your real interests are and helping you pursue them.

Megan Cannella ’18 – Visual Merchandising (Self-Made)

Why did you choose your major?

I came into my first year at Bucknell with no real idea of what I wanted to major in, let alone what I wanted to do in the future. The summer after my first year I created and ran a social media campaign for a large independent optical retail store in Connecticut and became enthralled with the marketing process. When I returned to Bucknell in the fall I wanted to find a way to combine the two things that I found interesting and exciting, which lead me to the interdepartmental major program.

What did/do you have to do to declare your major?

I began the application process in the first semester of my sophomore year and began to talk with as many faculty members in the industry to begin to develop my curriculum. From there I had to find a primary advisor in the art department and a secondary advisor in the School of Management. I then worked with my advisors to narrow in on what I wanted to learn with the Visual Merchandising major and how my curriculum was not covered by any of the offered majors.

Did you find it to be a hard decision?

I was hesitant to apply to be an interdepartmental major mainly because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to bring everything together to make a legitimate case for my major. I knew where I wanted to go, I just needed to take the leap and figure out how to get there.

Danielle Rothenberg ’18 – English with a double-concentration in literary studies and film/media studies

Why did you choose your major?

Last semester I took an IP course, Modernism & Crisis, with the late Professor Yastremski and Professor Rickard. We had fantastic guest lectures from faculty in all departments, but the one given by Professor Schweizer really resonated with me. He had incredible insight on the texts; but more importantly, he allowed us to question our societal responsibilities through an analysis of characterization and writing style. It was then that I had my ‘aha’ moment. 

At what point in your college career (thus far) were you positive about what you wanted your major to be?

I was never positive about what I wanted my major to be—all I knew was that I wanted to major in something that excited me to the point where I would happily take any course in the department. I hated thinking about the decision process because there were too many courses and professors across the University’s departments who sparked my interest!

How important do you think a student’s major is for life after college?

I used to think a student’s major meant everything—i.e. how much money one would make after college, who one’s friends/life partners would be, how happy one would be for the rest of one’s life, and how one would have to dress. However, now it appears to be highly misunderstood in its importance. Whatever you choose to major in will provide you with the critical thinking/analytical abilities required for success in any of the world’s jobs.

 

Erika Mandt ’18 – Biology (BS)

Why did you choose your major?

I’ve always loved science (and have been pretty good at it). I came into Bucknell undeclared, but 90 percent positive that I wanted to be a biology major. In high school, I double enrolled in science for two years—junior year taking chemistry and infectious diseases and senior year taking anatomy and physics. These classes (especially anatomy) furthered by passion for the medical sciences. In high school, I also worked in a health care clinic and knew that being a doctor is something that I wanted to pursue.

How important do you think a student’s major is for life after college?

It depends on what they are planning on doing. For some jobs, your major really doesn’t matter because they train you or pay for you to go to graduate school to learn what you need to be successful. For the medical field, I feel like the majority of majors are biology because that major overlaps with several of the pre-med requirements. However, even English majors go to med school.

Do you have any advice for students who are undeclared/still deciding?

Your major should be what you are most passionate about. You should be in courses where you enjoy being in class. You should want to do work for your class because you are passionate about learning the material and invested in your future.

 

Zack Carlee ’18 – Civil Engineering

Why did you choose your major?

The main reason I decided to study civil engineering was that I wanted to follow my passion which is construction. Ever since I was a child, I always loved building things whether it was making forts in my backyard with fallen branches or simply just playing with legos. In addition, my favorite subjects growing up were math and science, and as I grew older I realized that I can apply these subjects to my passion for building things. That’s when I realized that civil engineering was the major for me.

At what point in your college career (thus far) were you positive about what you wanted your major to be?

Initially when I applied to college I knew I wanted to do engineering, but I wasn’t sure of which kind. During my first semester here at Bucknell, I took a mini three-week crash course on bridge design in my ENGR 100 class. The teacher really got me interested in the subject, and from there on I knew that I wanted to study civil engineering, and that I can see myself down the road working on construction projects.

Did you find it to be a hard decision?

While it was tough deciding in October during freshman year which type of engineering I wanted to study, after sitting down and thinking about it I realized that this is what I am passionate about. With that in mind, it made it a lot easier to make that final decision.

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