Switching majors: deviation from path, not a bad thing

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Rachael Vacanti
Contributor

As graduation approaches, many seniors often declare a major in x, y or z. The apprehensive freshmen arrive on campuses across the country, then figure out that what they said they wanted to do, they really didn’t want to do.

I myself started out as a tiny, apprehensive, nervous wreck of a 19-year-old girl declaring a competitive major – Culinary Arts. Metro Community College had a fabulous program, huge kitchens, professional chefs and even a chocolate lab. I survived the orientation and sanitation classes, then began Foundations I. My professor, her chef, lectured for over an hour with blunt honesty. I heard about how chefs did a lot of drinking to relieve stress, and were constantly competing with one another, not to mention dropping several f-bombs along the way.

I got to the lab and survived the knife skills portion of class. I just stood there chopping vegetables
for over an hour.

The first week was designated Egg Week. All you did was cook eggs in various forms. Poach, omelet, scramble and something else. After showing it to the chef you got to eat it, none of which I ate. The whole kitchen had to help do the dishes and put everything away. It got really loud, I had been standing for an entire day and I was exhausted.

The next week, I had a bit of a head cold which is a no-no in the kitchen. I went to lecture, and once again survived knife skills since we were using our own expensive, fancy knives. I then promptly walked straight out and never looked back.

I was sick, I had nearly panicked the week before, and I just knew I wasn’t cut out for it.

I declared a general studies major at first, just taking random classes that looked or sounded interesting. I took some good classes during that time. I took a Women’s Literature class, a Humanities Through the Arts class and an interesting World Civilization class. It wasn’t until I met my Public Speaking professor that I fell in love with communication, words and the power that it had in shaping people.

I decided to transfer into UNO after getting my associates degree. I knew I should get a bachelor’s degree if I wanted any type of job. I had chosen a Communication Studies major because of the classes I had taken: Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication. Yet as I was going through the application process, I kept thinking back to when I had taken broadcasting and journalism at Buffett Magnet Middle School. I had loved those classes and wanted to do more of it. When I registered for classes, I took my advisors advice and signed up for a few journalism communication classes.

My first day of the semester was warm and sunny with a light breeze as I trekked across campus to Arts
and Sciences Hall for my Media Writing Lab course. An adjunct professor walked in and introduced
himself. I sat politely through the introduction.

He then did something I’ll never forget. He held up the AP Stylebook and said, “this is now your Bible.” With that one sentence, I fell in love with journalism all over again.

I went to my advisor and declared a double major in Journalism and Communication Studies. I grabbed some sheets that showed the classes I would need to take. As I studied them, I had the sudden realization that I was in over my head.

I really didn’t want to take Small Group Communication either, so I switched the Communication
Studies from a major to a minor. In the spring of 2014, after taking two different classes from Dr. Adam Tyma, I declared my second minor of Visual Communication and Culture, taking on an extra five classes and another year to my education.

As I took classes, the School of Communication was in the midst of making changes. Classes were being added, renamed or just dropped altogether. Communication

Law became required, and they added some Capstone classes. The 2014-2015 school year was
rather confusing. Registering for Fall 2015 classes was a pain in the rear end. I was trying to figure out what classes got renamed, which classes were no longer offered, and to top it all, I had to sort through journalism and broadcasting and public relations classes.

I had kept hearing that it was a good idea to take Communication Law, which I eventually did over the summer, and seriously considered changing to the new catalog.

However, when I looked at my credits and previous coursework as compared to the new catalog, I realized that some items would be counted as electives, others would no longer count at all and some I would have taken just because.

Switching majors is sometimes worth it. It might add on more school, but you’ll hate it even more if you get a job in a field you don’t love, simply because you did what was easy in college. It’s perfectly okay to not know what you want to do. No one expects you to figure it out by the time you’re 18. Most everyone changes their major at least once in college.

It’s also perfectly allowable to start out undeclared and work with the schools’ Academic/Career Center
to help you figure out what you’re good at, what you like to do and which major will help you reach those goals. Most students nowadays are taking more than the average four years to graduate.

I graduated high school in 2010, but I won’t be graduating college until six years later. I deferred for
a year, then went back to school at 19 and have been in school for the past five years.

If you hate the classes within your major, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing what YOU want to do. Not your parents, or anyone else. It’s your life, so you have to be the one to live it.

freshman-year-college

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