The Second Step: Choosing a major

The Second Step: Choosing a major

Tama Moni
The Dai­ly Campus
Nov. 8, 2017
STORRS, Conn.—This arti­cle is the sec­ond part of a series focus­ing on stu­dents in the job market. 

In the pre­vi­ous arti­cle, you learned the rela­tion­ship between stu­dents look­ing for employ­ment and employ­ers look­ing for interns. This arti­cle will explore why stu­dents choose their majors and what they hope to do with them in the future.

Pick­ing a col­lege is hard enough. Decid­ing what to study in col­lege is anoth­er problem.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Con­necti­cut offers hun­dreds of majors. And, if the major you want is not offered at the uni­ver­si­ty, you can do an indi­vid­u­al­ized major.

UConn is one of 900 uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges that offer indi­vid­u­al­ized majors for peo­ple who want to com­bine all their inter­ests into one major, accord­ing to a 2010 Wall Street Jour­nal article. 

Stu­dents inter­act­ed with pro­fes­sors and oth­er stu­dents in the var­i­ous depart­ments and majors that UConn offers. (Eric Wang/The Dai­ly Campus)

But what influ­ences stu­dents to pur­sue their majors? Is it finan­cial secu­ri­ty? Per­son­al inter­est? Both?

Well, at the UConn major fair in ear­ly Octo­ber, stu­dents and fac­ul­ty explained their rea­son for choos­ing their majors.

Albert Tul­li, a fifth-semes­ter chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing major, said he adver­tis­es his major to stu­dents who are unde­cid­ed as a The Major Expe­ri­ence mentor.

He said he chose his major because of his inter­est in math and sci­ence and his skill with chemistry.

Tul­li said with his major, he can go into a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent fields.

I am look­ing into pur­su­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals after earn­ing my degree if med­ical school is not an option,” Tul­li said.

Zachary Morin, sev­enth-semes­ter physics major with a con­cen­tra­tion in mate­r­i­al sci­ences, said his inter­est in met­als, aero­space engi­neer­ing and his blue-col­lar back­ground inspired him to pur­sue his major.

I love solv­ing things and fig­ur­ing things out,” Morin said.

He said he ini­tial­ly con­sid­ered jour­nal­ism, psy­chol­o­gy and mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing and his thought was: “Where can I make the most mon­ey? He said when he worked at an aero­space com­pa­ny when he was 18, it made him decide to ful­ly pur­sue mate­r­i­al sciences.

I wan­na come back and get my mas­ters,” Morin said.

Matthew Par­ent, a grad­u­ate stu­dent in polit­i­cal sci­ence, said he has always been a polit­i­cal sci­ence major and gave an inter­est­ing rea­son as to why he chose it.

I’m inter­est­ed in inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty and it’s a great way to learn (about) it,” Par­ent said.

There are stu­dents that are still fig­ur­ing out what they would like to major in.

Saman­tha Pitts­ley, a fifth-semes­ter stu­dent, said she’s still decid­ing what she wants to major in after pre­vi­ous­ly being an allied health major.

At the fair, she said she is lean­ing towards com­mu­ni­ca­tions and dig­i­tal arts due to her inter­ests in web design­ing and advertising.

She said she ini­tial­ly majored in allied health, because she had been inter­est­ed in phys­i­cal ther­a­py since high school. She said the aver­age pay in the field was also a factor.

I like to help peo­ple and PT is a hands-on career with help­ing peo­ple,” Pitts­ley said.

In Fall 2016, UConn had 19,030 stu­dents enrolled at its Storrs cam­pus, accord­ing to its Office of Insti­tu­tion­al Research and Effectiveness.

The three schools with­in the uni­ver­si­ty with the largest under­grad­u­ate enroll­ment in Fall 2016 were the Col­lege of Lib­er­al Arts and Sci­ences, School of Engi­neer­ing and School of Business.

The fac­ul­ty that lead the depart­ments with­in these schools have some­thing to say about their successes.

Michael Braun­stein, the assis­tant direc­tor of actu­ar­i­al sci­ence, said the depart­ment and major attracts a cer­tain type of student.

They’re good in math,” Braun­stein said. “They wan­na make good money.”

Actu­ar­i­al sci­ence is a major offered in the Depart­ment of Math­e­mat­ics in the Col­lege of Lib­er­al Arts and Sciences.

Braun­stein said it’s a hard major, with only 500 stu­dents cur­rent­ly in the program.

(UConn is) one of the pre­miere cen­ters for actu­ar­i­al sci­ence in the world,” Braun­stein said.

Pro­fes­sor Christo­pher Clark, the Head of the His­to­ry Depart­ment, said that his­to­ry is a “glob­al discipline.”

He said his­to­ry is becom­ing a pop­u­lar dou­ble major at UConn—especially with STEM students.

They want to have a set of per­spec­tives on how to use that knowl­edge,” Clark said on how his­to­ry can help STEM stu­dents apply a more human aspect to their tech­ni­cal skills.

He said it’s impor­tant for indi­vid­u­als to be able to under­stand people’s perspectives.

His­to­ry stu­dents learn crit­i­cal abil­i­ty,” Clark said.

To answer the ques­tions ear­li­er in the arti­cle, stu­dents are choos­ing their majors based on fac­tors of both finan­cial secu­ri­ty and per­son­al interests.