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Unsure About Your Major? You’re Not Alone

Tips and Tricks for Changing Your Major

June 21, 2011

Unsure About Your Major? You’re Not Alone

by Anna Meskishvili

It’s natural to have concerns about selecting the right major. There may be some trial and error: I personally went from public relations to business to English to economics to business journalism and back to public relations but transferring my tastes (and credits) was easy with BU’s intra-collegiate transfers. Not all switches may be that simple, though, so here are some tips if you aren’t 100-percent sure of your major:

  • Research. If during your second semester you decide that you’d rather pursue a degree in astronomy than business, be educated about what you are committing to. Each school of study has different schedule demands. Can you handle three-hour labs, night classes or morning-only classes?
  • Plan. Switching majors is tricky because you’ll have to fit a four-year program into less time. Map out the classes you need to take and make sure they’re offered during the specific semester you wish to take them. And be careful with prerequisites! “Pre” means before, so know that you can’t take CM 441 before CM 301, or at the same time.
  • Set Goals. All schools have GPA requirements for transfer, so be very aware of that ratio and strive to reach and maintain it. It’s usually different for every school of study (biology’s may be lower than communications', for example).

Remember that changing your mind is okay and your university is there to help and make any transition easy, pleasant and rewarding. As a rising senior in the PR program, I know I’ve finally made the right major choice, yet I don’t know exactly what the future holds. The best advice I can give about picking a major or a career is to imagine doing it for free. If you’d still love it, then your heart and mind are in the right place.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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How to Get Your Dream Job

by Lisa Lowdermilk

What is your dream job? Do you want to win the war against cancer as an oncologist? Or would you rather spend your time in the classroom teaching students who will eventually become the backbone of our society?

Regardless of what your answer is, it's crucial that you ask yourself a couple of questions. Where do you want to work? Would you rather work in an office setting or out in the field? Do you want to work with people or would you rather work alone? The answers to these questions not only will help make your dream job more real to you, they can also help you if you are undecided about what field you'd like to major in. The key here is to be as specific as possible: You can't make your dreams a reality if you don't know what your dreams are yet!

Let's say you've completed a few semesters and have decided you want to become a radiologist. You can tell by the coursework that you will enjoy the field but you don't really know what the actual job will be like. Visit your local hospital and talk with some of the people who work in the radiology department. Ask if you can shadow them to see what they do on a daily basis. Not only will you gain valuable learning experience, you will also feel like your college experience is actually preparing you for a job.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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Facebook College Group Etiquette

by Alexis Mattera

You’ve been accepted. You’ve paid your deposit. You’ve stocked up on apparel emblazoned with your future school’s name. What’s next? For many students today, it’s joining their new school’s Facebook page to share their excitement, concerns and any other feelings about their upcoming postsecondary experience. Sure, some students think that what they say or do on this page won’t matter because it’s “just Facebook” but others – like incoming Wake Forest freshman Nicole Echeverria – will tell you that being “that guy” or “that girl” won't help your cause.

Echeverria recently penned a piece for USA Today Education detailing her experiences on her school’s Class of 2015 page and the recent high school graduate has created some pretty good guidelines for other incoming freshmen to follow online. Metaphorical pinkies up!

  • Introducing yourself with a few simple facts (name, hometown, prospective major, interests, etc.) and initiating conversations with other admitted students is a great way to make friends before setting foot on campus in the fall. Meeting new people can be difficult for some; breaking the ice online makes the process that much easier.
  • Asking questions about anything and everything can bring about some excellent insight about the coming year. You could find a mentor on campus, seek out help filling out housing forms or see who else is going to a meet-up for students in your major.
  • Limit your comments and likes to a reasonable amount. Chances are, other members of the group have notifications sent to their inboxes and if they see your name on each and every one, you can bet they’ll want to delete you from all friend lists – virtual and real.
  • Feel free to friend others, but don’t do so with reckless abandon. If you notice you and another person have been commenting on all the same threads, send them a friend request with a short message noting this. Who knows...you could have just met your new roommate!

First collegiate impressions are no longer made on move-in day but instead in the months leading up to it. How are you putting your best foot forward online?


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Don’t Avoid Drama in College – Embrace It!

Why You Should Consider Participating in College Theatre

June 22, 2011

Don’t Avoid Drama in College – Embrace It!

by Thomas Lee

I first began theatre in high school playing the role of Mr. Gibbs in the play “Arsenic and Old Lace” and then I was an extra in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” In college, I did not necessarily plan to perform theatre since I was a political science major but I auditioned my freshman year because I couldn’t resist the allure.

I ended up playing some country hick in a skit play called “Talking With...And Moving On” and appeared on stage again as an extra in the spring musical “The Robber Bridegroom.” In my junior year, I was an extra in a musical about evangelist John Wesley called “Ride! Ride!” This production was particularly time consuming and contributed nothing to my major; after the show ended, so did my college theatre career.

Even though I was a political science major, I had always found the stage interesting and mainly auditioned for roles for the fun of it. I did gain some experience in stage construction, time management skills and, of course, performance. I also received one semester hour of theatre class credit for my first freshman role.

College theatre can be an enthralling experience even if you are not a theatre, performing arts or music major. The key is to know if the time necessary for stage practice will cut too much into class or study time. I learned how to better manage my studying and homework, as I had to schedule it around rehearsal.

If you are considering becoming involved in all that college drama, here are a few guidelines:

  1. Always be early to practice.
  2. Always pay attention to instructions.
  3. Always take part in stage construction and destruction.
  4. If you plan to quit, quit early.
  5. Make sure practice doesn’t ruin your grades.

If you can abide by these simple rules, then maybe you’re ready for the art of the stage!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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The Importance of Job Shadowing

by Katie Askew

You’re the high school senior that wanted to be a doctor ever since you saw that episode of “House.” Or, maybe, you’re the high school senior that’s deciding between a few possible careers and has a couple of majors in mind. But really, how is any 17-year-old supposed to decide on a career for rest of their life without any practice?! One activity that high school students overlook is the solution to this problem...and it’s just as important as extracurriculars and volunteer hours: job shadowing.

After a period of stressing out about my future major, I had a conversation with my AP English Literature teacher. He happened to be a former reporter for my hometown paper, The Argus Leader, and suggested that I job shadow a reporter he knew there. He set me up with Josh, a journalism graduate of the University of Minnesota, and I spent the next day observing him in the newsroom. I learned the ins and outs of how a newspaper is produced, how to cover a school board meeting and conduct an interview for an article. All of this helped me get a sense of the job and the daily activities I would partake in as a reporter and Josh was nice enough to answer all of my questions.

I attribute my love for my future career to this day and for this I am deeply indebted to Josh and my teacher. Even today, I know I can go to Josh as a mentor with any questions I have about classes at the U of M, journalism jobs or basically anything that comes up. He really inspired the journalist in me – something I wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

So, thank you again, Josh. To everyone else, find the major or career you could love just as much by job shadowing!

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.


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California Makes Cuts, Students Feel the Pain

by Jacquelene Bennett

It was recently announced that many state-funded universities in California were eliminating or reducing summer sessions due to budget cutbacks. This news comes on the eve of California lawmakers finally passing a budget plan in the state senate that would help modify the California’s debt problems. While this plan may help with the state's deficit, it puts thousands of students in trouble.

Summer school has traditionally been a time for students to either gain headway with their degrees or to stay on track with their programs because of unforeseen circumstances during the regular academic year. But now due to the budget plan, some schools like West Los Angeles College are not offering summer courses at all while other schools such as Cal Poly Pomona are increasing summer tuition fees and offering fewer classes. It is also being reported that many state universities as well as several California community colleges will offer less for-credit courses while still maintaining and offering specialized training courses and not-for-credit classes for students during the summer.

So what does this mean for students? Not only will they have to pay more per unit for summer courses than if they were taking them during the traditional academic period but the available summer classes will be not-for-credit and the for-credit classes will be extremely difficult and expensive to register for. So with the already overcrowded state schools raising the tuition fees earlier this year, these new cuts will further delay a student's ability to graduate on time.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.


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A High School Bucket List

by Angela Andaloro

While newly-minted high school seniors across the country are already itching to walk across the stage and accept their diplomas next spring, there are a few things students must do before their high school experience comes to a close. I was there myself not too long ago and this was my official high school bucket list:

  • Go to one epic party. You know those huge house parties you see in every teen flick ever created? Believe it or not, they actually happen in real life. It’s an experience you’ll never forget, so go ahead and enjoy it! Just make sure to enjoy responsibly.
  • Pull an all-nighter. This may not sound like a whole lot of fun but it’s definitely an experience, especially when you do it with friends! My advice: Don’t stay up all night the night before the test! You need your sleep before a big exam so do it a few nights in advance if you can.
  • Go to prom. I realize prom isn’t something everyone gets totally into; that said, it’s something everyone could get a tiny bit into. It’s fun to get dressed up, have a sophisticated evening out and see your classmates truly trying to act like adults (which can be pretty funny). Most people only get one chance to go to prom...why not take it?
  • Start thinking about the future. Many high school seniors think they have plenty of time to worry about the future – majors, possible careers, even the colleges they’ll attend – but I can tell you from personal experience that the first two years of college whiz by and before you know it, it’s time to make those decisions. The earlier you start to think about what you want to do and where you want to go, the better prepared you’ll be.

What’s on YOUR high school bucket list?

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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History Proficiency Low in America

by Alexis Mattera

Do you know who becomes our nation’s leader if the current president and vice president should both die? Who said “Give me liberty or give me death?” Not sure of the answers? Neither are American students.

According to the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress test – an exam that measures proficiency in mathematics, reading, history, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics and geography – American students just aren’t “getting” American History. The results revealed high school seniors have the worst grasp on the subject with an 87-percent failure rate, followed by eighth graders (82 percent) and fourth graders (78 percent). These marks should be cause for parent-teacher conferences...except when the CBS affiliate in Boiling Springs, South Carolina asked locals some sample exam questions, not one person could answer how many justices sit on the U.S. Supreme Court or name the Chief Justice and only one person could name South Carolina's two U.S. Senators and who American patriots fought against in the Revolutionary War.

Sure, not everyone is a history major and most people don’t have careers requiring the recollection of these facts on a daily basis but being informed about the country you call home is never a bad thing. Check out some of the questions here then tell us what you would do to increase these unsatisfactory scores.


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Choosing Your Study Abroad Destination

by Mariah Proctor

Most peoples’ perfect study abroad destination is dictated by major. Should you find yourself studying English, you will likely want to go to the land of Shakespeare, Keats and Wordsworth. Ancient Near Eastern Studies will likely send you to the modern Near East. Music may see you joining me here in Vienna. But if you’re undecided, here are some helpful hints in choosing a study abroad destination.

If you want to remain comfortable, have frequent Internet access and see sights you’ve heard about your whole life, go to Europe. In doing so, know you’ll see thrilling sites and learn royal history but also know that the people accompanying you will probably be on their parents’ dime and may be inclined to constant shopping, checking items off their bucket lists and taking countless photos. If you are one of those people, perfect fit.

If you’re ok with a little sweat and dirt in your shoes, explore the Middle East. It will be full of things religiously significant to multiple sects so prepared to be bowled over by devotion and the drama of clashing beliefs. Desert heat is dry but desert dwellers know spices so be prepared for some incredible taste sensations. You’ll be joined by students with specific passions; people that travel to the Middle East aren’t just traveling for the sake of traveling so make sure you aren’t either.

If you want a daily helping of potentially incurable culture shock and an environment that is both stringent about formal propriety and laid back about everything else, head to Southeast Asia. Your travel companions will likely be humanitarians and adventurers. Just avoid getting stepped on by the elephants that will be lumbering down the street.

Every study abroad has a distinct student culture. Thoroughly research not only the place but the kind of people that choose that destination to ensure it is paradise for you. But rest assured, no matter where you choose to go, there will always be plenty of ice cream.

Mariah Proctor is a senior at Brigham Young University studying theatre arts and German studies. She is a habitual globe-trotter and enjoys acoustic guitar, sunshine and elephant whispering. Once the undergraduate era of her life comes to an end, she plans to perhaps seek a graduate degree in film and television production or go straight to pounding the pavement as an actor and getting used to the sound of slammed doors. Writing has and always will be the constant in her whirlwind life story.


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Making Connections in College

Campus Groups, Classes and Professional Organizations All Have Benefits

July 7, 2011

Making Connections in College

by Darci Miller

Once you hit college, you no longer have to build your resume to get into the school of your dreams but you do have to build your resume to get the career of your dreams. Trust me, the competition out there is tough and you’ll need any leg up than you can get. Luckily for you, college has a veritable goldmine of resources to help you.

First and foremost, take advantage of on-campus organizations related to your intended field. From clubs to fraternities, there will definitely be something for you to get involved with to make connections – both with professionals and with other students in your major. Older students can help you out with classes in future semesters and professionals can be great assets in securing internships.

Class assignments can be great opportunities to make connections as well. Last fall, my sport leadership professor assigned each student to interview a leader in the field they want to get into. As a U.S. Olympic Committee hopeful, I was able to interview Gary Hall, Sr., a former Olympic swimmer and current vice president of the U.S. Olympians Association. Not only was this insanely cool for me (I was so star struck!) but he wrote me a letter of recommendation that helped me get an interview with USA Swimming. And this all happened because of a homework assignment!

Professional organizations are significant assets as well. Many have chapters for college students to join and membership fees are fairly minimal. Joining one of these organizations gives you access to a vast network of connections. Though I’m not in one yet, I have a friend who’s a member of the Association of Women in Sports Media. She just graduated and credits the AWSM for helping her get a killer internship with MLB.com. (I think I need to join this, like, five minutes ago!) To find an organization that’s right for you, Google professional organizations for your major to start making connections. Happy hunting!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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