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How to Switch Your Major

February 19, 2013

How to Switch Your Major

by Carly Gerber

Choosing a major is quite possibly one of the hardest decisions to make in college. We all have our different stories of how we chose our major – many of my friends chose their major because it was the easiest college to get into at the university while others selected their major because their parents thought the field would yield the most opportunities after college – but what happens when you want to switch majors?

I’ve switched majors three times so I know the situation can be stressful. If you’re no longer enjoying your original major, the idea of attending another class in that field may feel like it’s going to send you over the edge but keep calm. First things first: What’s your new dream major? Only you know what interests you so don’t let others influence your decision. Once you’ve answered this question, do all the research you can to learn how to get into the program. Some universities make you apply to each college while others let you freely move from college to college. Each university is different so be sure to meet with an adviser if you have any questions.

Next, start the transfer process. Hopefully you do get into the college of you dreams but if you don’t, I promise the world won’t end! Life’s setbacks can open many new doors but I would highly suggest not continuing to major in something that doesn’t interest you – you’re the one who will have to attend those classes...not your friend, your aunt or your mom. This may also be your time to reconsider college in general...maybe you don’t just want to switch majors but transfer universities entirely!

Finding the right major is about knowing what you will enjoy and knowing what you can use later on. That leaves every major known to mankind as a possibly!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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The Perks of Public Ivies

by Carly Gerber

Some of you may be striving to gain acceptance to an Ivy League school and that’s very admirable – they are some of the best schools in the world! – but there’s another group of universities that may interest you as well: the public ivies!

The Public Ivy League consists of the College of William & Mary, Miami University, the University of California (campuses as of 1985), the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UT Austin, the University of Vermont and UVa. These schools rival the eight Ivy League schools in academic excellence, attraction of superstar faculty, competition for the best and brightest students, appearance and rich history but with lower sticker prices. (If you live in a state where there is a public ivy, then the tuition price goes down even further.) Many of the public ivies are regularly ranked among the top schools by U.S. News & World Report; their graduate programs in business, education, engineering, law and medicine are also highly ranked.

If you are an athlete, you may want to consider the public ivies because, unlike Ivy League schools, they award athletic-based scholarships. (Ivy League athletes may receive scholarships and financial aid, but not towards their athletic merit.) Plus, they participate in major athletic conferences – think the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC or Pac-12 – that put athletes’ skills on display at the national level and attract interest from professional teams, if that is your ultimate goal.

Public ivies are also great options for students who want the challenging academic environment of an Ivy League school but would prefer a larger campus. By choosing a public ivy, students have access to a more diverse student body, bigger course catalog and wider range of campus groups.

What are your thoughts on public ivies? High schoolers, will you be considering one or more of these schools in your college search? College students, if you attend one of these schools, we'd love to hear how you made your decision!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Getting a College Education Behind Bars

by Carly Gerber

Did you know Cornell University offers a program for inmates at Auburn Correctional Facility and Cayuga Correctional Facility to receive college educations?

The Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) began from the ideas and actions of English professor Winthrop “Pete” Wetherbee who, without funding, began teaching in the Auburn prison in the mid-1990s. By 1999, CPEP was offering Cornell credit for completed courses and in 2008, Cornell and Cayuga Community College (CCC) made an agreement which has Cornell waive tuition and fees, CPEP supply instructors and pay for books, school supplies and administration and CCC endow associate degrees. Plus, the CPEP is relatively low in cost – $1,800 per student – and has numerous benefits: Prison education appears to increase the safety of the prisons because the men and women are staying occupied, learning and building self-esteem.

The programs have been getting a positive reaction because other inmates want to join. Retired Cornell professor Richard Polenberg taught a constitutional history course at Auburn Correctional Facility and had said, “These men are extraordinary” and “They are very, very well behaved in the classroom and they ask really good questions.” Government and American Studies professor Mary Katzenstein explains, “Ninety-five percent of men and women in prison are released to society. Do we want people returning who have learned only to hone tricks of the trade, or do we want people coming back to our neighborhoods who have had a chance to learn the kind of analytical skills and be exposed to the ethical values that a liberal arts education is able to impart?”

With the low cost and many benefits of the CPEP, I think all correctional facilities should have a program like it and more colleges should follow Cornell's lead. What are your thoughts about the CPEP?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Finding Internship and Job Opportunities via Social Media

by Carly Gerber

Despite having other important things to check off my to-do list, I’ve spent countless hours on an assortment of social media outlets. (I’m sure you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament.) Recently, I began using one form of social media that isn’t a time waster: It’s called LinkedIn and it uses social media to connect its users to employers.

A LinkedIn user will create a personal profile with a picture, a description of their work experience, the education they’ve received and the type of degree(s) they were awarded from their college(s). Many students, however, don’t take advantage of LinkedIn, which can connect them with a number of employers who have job and internship openings. While 90 percent of students use Facebook frequently or occasionally, 46 percent of students have never used LinkedIn and those students who have don’t make it a priority to use it during their job search. According to this article on readwrite.com, students searching for jobs focus their efforts, in order, on:

  • Employer's website (70%)
  • Contact within the company (65%)
  • School career fair (61%)
  • Online job listings site (58%)
  • Social networking - including LinkedIn (26%)

LinkedIn is underutilized by college students because many feel they don’t have enough work experience or connections to even create a profile. Yet, students who create LinkedIn profiles have a greater chance at making connections, which can lead to jobs and internships. Do you have a LinkedIn account? If so, has it been helpful in your quest for employment?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Taking a Gap Year May Enhance Your College Experience

by Carly Gerber

So you’re a high school senior who has worked hard to maintain the impressive grades and variety of extracurriculars that earned you multiple college offers. But before you purchase those extra-long twin sheets and start choosing fall classes, consider how a gap year could positively impact your future.

According to the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, more than 50 percent of students in Norway, Denmark and Turkey take a gap year (also known as a bridge year) before college. In the U.S., however, the practice is far from the norm. A USA Today article recently explored some misconceptions about gap years – it’s believed that taking a year off is only for affluent students and students fear that they will be at a disadvantage because they will be a year behind their age group – but in reality, students who take a year off from formal education before entering college find “a focused sense of purpose, independence, self-confidence, grit and resilience,” says Abby Falik, who founded Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit that supports gap year choices. And to further debunk the myths listed above, Global Citizen Year even provides financial aid to students who would not be able to afford a gap year otherwise.

Looking back, I believe completing a gap year would have helped me a lot. I enjoyed my time at my first university but I wasn’t striving for a specific future. I felt lost and unsure if I was going down the right path...even after switching my major three times and transferring to a new university. Following three high-anxiety years, I took a six-month sabbatical from college – time that allowed me to explore and reflect on my goals. I am happy I made the decision to take a break from college because I was able to determine who I want to be and how I want to get there. I only wish I had done so sooner!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Habits to Keep, Kick in College

by Carly Gerber

Freshman year of college is right around the corner and I’m sure many of you are happy to be leaving those high school days behind you...but don’t leave behind EVERYTHING you’ve learned in high school! As a college student, I learned the hard way which characteristics to keep and kick but you don’t have to: USA Today recently shared some but I’ve included a few of my own tips as well.

  • Handwrite notes in class. Warning: Keep all technology in your dorm room or, if you must have it with you, make sure it’s switched off. Even those with great self-restraint will eventually take a peek at Facebook...which will turn into a 30-minute session. Using a good ol’ pen and paper will help you to avoid distractions during class.
  • Don’t do homework for one class in another class. In college, finishing an assignment for one class while in another class should be avoided. It will be harder to succeed in college classes – especially those within your major – if you aren’t paying attention in class.
  • Stay in Monday through Friday. This advice may seem unrealistic and just plain crazy but stay in Monday through Friday. There may be great deals on drinks and food off campus on Tuesdays but save your money and energy for the weekend. You will feel like you earned the night out instead of regretting your headache and exhaustion in your morning classes.
  • Get sleep. It’s been proven that getting seven to nine hours of sleep will do wonders for the body and anything less than those recommended hours will make you irritable, less able to concentrate, hungrier and (no surprise here) sleepier. Avoid all-nighters and staying up late like the plague because you’ll pay for it the next day.

Do you have any high school habits you’ve kept or kicked in college? Let us know in the comments!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Is the Four-Year Plan Making Us Feel Guilty?

by Carly Gerber

According to the Buffalo News, there has been a decrease in the amount of students who receive their undergraduate degree in four years. Fewer than half of the University at Buffalo graduates graduated in four years and many other universities have seen the same decrease in their students graduating in that once-traditional timeframe. For example, Niagara University had only 60 percent of its students graduate in four years, while Alfred University only had 43 percent of its graduates graduate in four years. These statistics aren’t just exclusive to New York State, either: I personally know students from all over who have taken an extra semester or two to graduate.

My circumstances of being a transfer student and a student who has changed her major more times than she can count have caused me to extend my stay at college by a few semesters. Initially, I felt guilt, regret, sadness and self-loathing for needing to spend extra time at college; however, I wanted to feel excited for the future and those negative emotions were only going to hold me back from my full potential. Now, I’m feeling excitement, urgency and passion to take my college career seriously and to become a proud and successful graduate. I feel more mature and wiser because of my setbacks and changes during my time at college.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Are Summer Classes Right for You?

by Chelsea Slaughter

Summer classes are great for getting ahead or catching back up if you’ve fallen behind. They aren’t for everyone, though, so when deciding on extra courses for the summer, keep these factors in mind:

  • Financial Aid: An important factor is whether or not you can financially afford to take summer classes. When I was a freshman, I was able to take two summer courses using a summer Pell grant but unfortunately, that option is no longer available. Summer financial aid is included in your fall/spring aid year so if you use your loan money in entirety during the fall and spring, then you may not have any left for summer classes. Check with your campus financial aid office to get the most current information and payment alternatives.
  • Class Location: You do not have to live near your university or stay on campus to take a summer class. You could take a course at a nearby university while living at home – just go to your admissions office to fill out the necessary paperwork to complete this. Online classes are also always an option; there may be a price difference between online and traditional in-person courses so be sure to check that before signing up.
  • Time Spent in Class: My university has a breakdown of three short semesters during the summer that last one month each. I took two “Maymester” classes and we were in class for almost three hours a day Monday through Thursday; I found this easy because the professors taught only the needed information without the extra projects that usually fill up a semester. Not all universities have this option so check with your advisers on the different summer class options.

The academic year is almost over so if you are interested in continuing your coursework this summer, get informed and determine if summer classes are right for you!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Conquering Your Summer Reading List

by Chelsea Slaughter

Summer reading is something we just cannot get away from...even after high school: Most colleges and universities require incoming freshman to complete summer reading and test new students on this material during freshman orientation or in English classes. Here are a few tips to make completing your summer reading a breeze:

  • Block out your summer. Think about the period where you will have the fewest activities and try fitting your reading in there. Plan early so you know the best time to focus on reading, as a busy summer is never an acceptable excuse to professors.
  • Traveling? Take your reading along. There’s nothing that makes a long flight or road trip fly by like a good book. If you know you will have downtime on your trip, take your book(s) with you to pass by the time.
  • Take notes. If you choose to knock your reading out early, jot down notes to refresh your memory at the end of the summer. You’ll be surprised how helpful reviewing a few details about the main characters and a summary of the plot can be right before the start of orientation or classes.
  • Finish related assignments immediately. If you have questions to answer or a paper to write about the book, complete this work as soon as you finish reading. This is best because your memories are the freshest and you will be able to complete your assignments to the best of your ability.

Summer reading is only a drag if you wait until the last minute – the sooner you get it done, the sooner you will be able to enjoy your summer without it nagging the back of your mind!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Planning a Successful Summer

by Chelsea Slaughter

As summer approaches, we begin to see the bright light of freedom on the horizon. What are your plans for break? If you do not have any, no worries: It’s not too late to plan! Do not spend the next few months lounging on the sofa watching reruns – get out and make the best of your break! Here are some tips to make your summer a great one:

  • Summer Jobs: While getting a part-time job at a local fast food place is always an option, try something new this summer. Find a job that will give you new experiences and allow you to meet new people. Ever thought about being a counselor at a sleep-away summer camp? Check out GreatCampJobs.com to find some of the best counselor jobs available. Some even offer college credit! Imagine getting paid AND earning school credit while working at a totally new place and helping kids have an amazing summer.
  • Summer Classes: Summer classes are always a great option if you feel up to the challenge of focusing during the summer months. Don’t know if it’s for you? Check out my previous post to find out!
  • Study Abroad:Take your educational pursuits to new levels or even new countries! Check your admissions office and see what study abroad programs they offer of the summer. You’ll continue to learn while experiencing a new culture, people and surroundings.
  • Summer Internship: Many great places are looking for determined young minds to fill internship positions. Most degrees require students to participate in at least one internship in their major field of study. Even if it’s not a requirement for you, do it to build your resume: The more experience you have in your desired work field when you graduate, the better your chances are for being considered for employment. Some internships even lead to paid full-time jobs so work hard because you never know where an internship opportunity could lead!

While summer is considered a break, you can always take advantage of amazing opportunities waiting to be discovered. Tell us what you have in store once school gets out!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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