It’s the time of the school year when undergraduates who have yet to declare a major must finally make a decision about what they are going to study for their remaining semesters at Trinity. In the spring, major declaration primarily applies to sophomores who have completed enough credit hours to declare their major.
Although choosing a major is essential to being a college student, there are many other areas that a student must consider when deciding the field and career they want to pursue.
“Major does not equal career and career does not equal major,” said Twyla Hough, director of career services. “With the exception of more technical fields like accounting or engineering, you can typically take your major plus any relevant experience and go into a variety of fields.”
Every year, Career Services is visited by students who have questions about the major they should choose, especially near registration time.
“We have a lot of students who come in and want to do assessments to have an immediate answer, when actually, it’s a gradual process,” Hough said. “Really, it’s about finding out what they enjoy. What major and topics within the classes and within the coursework are things that they value and that they could see themselves getting excited about. Then, supplementing that with related experience to a career path that they want to go into.”
Hough tells students that it is important to supplement their majors with areas that will offer real world experience and skills, such as research opportunities, internships, service learning and leadership roles.
“Once a student makes a decision on their major, then it’s really important to have a conversation about what sort of experiential learning they’re going to do to supplement the major, because the major alone is not going to get them a job,” Hough said.
Sophomore Megan Medrano has not yet declared her major, but is considering declaring communication with a minor in economics.
“I’ve really liked communication ever since I started Trinity last year,” Medrano said. “I was kind of set on economics, but I just made this change a week ago. I really like communication and media and all of that, so that’s where I am right now.”
Medrano plans to go to graduate school and eventually receive her Ph.D., but is not entirely sure what she wants to do with her degree yet.
“Just knowing that with communication there are a lot of different interdisciplinary fields to go into drives me towards that major,” Medrano said.
Sophomore Katie Funderburg has already declared her major in history. She is interested in getting her master’s in library science to become a research librarian for special archives, or getting her Ph.D. and becoming a professor.
“I came into Trinity thinking I was going to major in English, then I took medieval Christianity and I’ve just continued taking history classes and have seen that that’s where I fit in and where I’m learning more about myself,” Funderburg said.
Like Medrano, Funderburg appreciates the flexibility of career options for liberal arts majors.
“There’s an awesome leeway to it, but there’s also the scariness of not having a schooled, professional path laid out for me. It’s something you have to work through a little bit more,” said Funderburg. “I wish people, including myself, could be more confident about the future of people who do have more liberal arts types of majors.”
As for students who are still deciding on a major, Hough suggests having conversations with faculty, speaking to students who have already declared majors, students who are about to graduate, tapping into the alumni network and speaking with Career Services to find out what you might want to major in and to hear experiences from those who have already majored in those areas.
“It’s about being strategic and having an idea of what you want to do and then majoring in an area that is of interest to you,” Hough said. “Take classes and get real-world experience that supplements the major, you choose and really, the sky is the limit.”
The deadline to declare a major or minor this semester is Monday, March 2.