Do me a favor: Look at a picture of yourself in the “throes” of your senior year in high school. Then think of yourself, as you are, in the (actual) throes of your college career. What about you has changed since that picture was taken?
If you’re like me, it’s almost everything.
How, then, does Cal Poly expect wet-behind-the-ears 18-year-olds to appropriately choose their major upon application?
In high school, I majored in friends with a concentration in trying to be funny. I was lucky to find this wasn’t one of Cal Poly’s 62 areas of study when I applied. I was infinitely luckier to have chosen something that I would grow into.
I wrote for my high school newspaper and had better English teachers than anything else, but choosing journalism was ultimately about it being the subject I had the least reasons not to study. Journalism has worked for me out of: Sheer. Blind. Luck.
Others aren’t so fortunate.
Communication studies senior Tommy Holcomb was a biological sciences major for half of his first quarter.
“I chose biology because I liked biology in high school, and I didn’t really realize you could major in something that wasn’t necessarily a subject you took in high school,” Holcomb said. “I just kind of picked a major to pick one. All the other schools I applied to, you didn’t have to stick with a major.”
In retrospect, high school biology was a far cry from the glimpse of the subject Holcomb received in college, he said. He had already decided to change his major by the time he got here, though.
“October to June of your senior year, a lot can change,” he said. “I just realized I wasn’t that interested in the topics biology covered anymore.”
After managing to fulfill his Individualized Change of Major Agreement, Holcomb was able to nip his problem in the bud.
Many students are worse off, meandering across two to three different majors throughout their careers. Some even have epiphanies in the latter stages of college, by which point they have invested large amounts of time and money into what they have deemed is not their true calling.
The administration acknowledges this as a problem: A recent Mustang Daily article details the measures the university is currently taking to assist students in changing their majors.
Fact: people change.
Arguably, some of the biggest changes occur during the process of graduating, moving away from the influence of parents and living in a new setting surrounded by new people — developments that take place after Cal Poly makes you decide who you are and before it expects you to start being that person.
The idea behind this immediate classification is to provide students with four or five years of specialized education. However, Cal Poly requires at least a year’s worth of general education for all majors anyway. A more traditional curriculum would permit students to meet these non-major requirements while receiving exposure to available disciplines before committing to a major.
A year or two of undeclared general education followed by three years of major study is the same as four or five years of general education and major courses intertwined — you still get as many specialized units; they just happen to be more concentrated.
Coming to college should feel like entering a vast buffet of knowledge, not being confined to the same restaurant forevermore because, like, you ate there once as a teenager and it was, like, not bad.