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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

College Majors

This month little brother Abe is starting school near me. He postponed college for a year or two while saving cash for tuition (all of us kids have done this and therefore started college late) and deciding on a major. What to major in is quite the question: Abe loves art, drama, music, and languages, but he also excels in the sciences. He considered artistic versus scientific (knowing Abe, he made a pros and cons list), and this Spring he was leaning towards a PA (physician's assistant) degree. I was hesitant to give approval to this choice - I think there is value to a PA degree, but it's a limited field. However, Abe changed his mind and is going whole hog medical school. At least, so he says for now.
I was kind of in Abe's situation when I started college back in 2001*. I went to school on an art scholarship, and eight years later I was a pharmacist! We both are mostly right brain in interests and abilities, but can do left brain tasks as well. I started out in art, but quickly realized that I could do well enough in more scientific areas to pursue any number of careers. I changed my major from studio art to biology after two years, and went on to pharmacy school. Abe's major is biology for now, but I'm wondering if he'll change his mind once he starts classes.
From an unofficial poll, I gather that a lot of students change majors during college. Did you? Was it a drastic change? Did you lose credit hours? After two years of art classes my only pre-pharmacy requirement that I had met was freshman English!
* But not really. Abe is all brilliant and stuff and taught himself Mandarin. And he runs a 4:19 mile. So I don't really hold a candle to Abe. Ah, little brothers! First they get all tall and bigger than you, then they whoop your academic record!


  1. When you write about your brothers it makes me laugh!! He may just become an MD. I had the same major thru college because I just had to get a degree. I wanted to be a flight attendant and travel. Then I landed in commercial insurance, funny how life works!!

  2. I didn't really change majors - I had planned on going into journalism and for any journalism school in Canada I would need two years of general studies. So I did two years of general studies (LOVED IT - I wish a degree in that would be useful) and then did two years of journalism and ended up with a Bachelor of Journalism and a major in Public Relations. However, I'm working in PR and Marketing so didn't really end up in the field I majored in. I do still freelance write on the side, though.

  3. I started off as a Clinical Lab Science major. I didn't take a single math class, and I missed it so badly, I was tutoring girls on my floor in college algebra. So after that first semster, I switched my major to Math and never really looked back. It is definitely not the most 'practical' degree... but it is something that people respect when they see it on my resume.

  4. I changed my major slightly, from polymer science to chemistry (then later went on to get a master's in chemical engineering- but most lay people don't think chemistry and chem E are very different) but I was really really torn between majoring in a science or majoring in English. I decided to major in chemistry because I figured that you always get tired of your job and I never wanted to tire of literature and writing. I still kind of wish I'd double majored, and if I could go back to school, I'd be torn between getting an advanced degree in English or one in Nutrition.
    The good thing is that my love of writing has really paid off for me because I do a ton of technical writing for my job and it's a skill that most engineers don't have.

  5. Lisa - Yes, a math degree totally intimidates!
    Shelly - Writing is always a useful skill, no matter the degree. Your comment reminded me a little of my dad; his masters is in "physical engineering" which he laboriously explains is not the same as physics or engineering!

  6. I didn't change majors but ended up with a degree that I'll never use (my major was recording industry with a music business emphasis). I was all determined to get my degree before the age of 21, which I did but not sure what my hurry was for!

  7. i changed majors three times !:)