Changing your college major
By Katria Farmer
Whenever you walk into Dr. Michael Smith’s office, it almost seems as if you are walking into his home. He’s typically typing furiously on his Mac computer and/or having an intense phone conversation. There are extensive bookcases that cover two out of four of his walls. On the only wall without a bookcase or a window, there is a bold painting of a ship on a stormy sea.
Several awards that he’s received and even more pictures of his family are plastered everywhere. Coffee mugs litter many surfaces in the room and there’s even has a mini-fridge in the room. A person’s home is wherever they store their food and he has a mini fridge in that office. Campbell University is his second home . . . literally.
Professor Smith is one of the many academic advisors of Campbell, dedicated to helping students be the best that they can be, and it’s around this time when students need them the most. It’s not only a chance to pick new classes but it’s a decision floating in the air of whether or not you’ll change your major.
Smith says that there have been many times when students have come to him, conflicted about their choice in major. He recalls one of his former students, Danisha Gates, who graduated three years ago with a communication studies degree.
“She was pre-pharmacy and realized that the chemistry was eating her lunch so she transferred here [to the communication studies department] and she just got her masters from ECU. She’s doing very well.”
Smith says that many students come to Campbell with aspirations to be pharmacists but “they hit the first couple of hard science classes and realize that that’s not for them.”
Such was the case for junior Resident Assistant Whitney Myers. “I actually came into Campbell as a pre-pharmacy major and I was just really interested in pharmacy. My reason for changing was I looked at the curriculum and I noticed I would need chemistry and micro-biology and all of the classes that I kind of took in high school and I noticed that I wasn’t necessarily good in them.” Myers changed from pre-pharmacy to health care March of her freshman year and has stuck with it ever since.
Many have a problem doing just that-sticking with something. Freshman biology major, Khadijah Fountain feels a slight hint of displacement with her major and she’s still trying to figure out what she wants to do for the rest of her life, which isn’t uncommon according to Smith.
Fountain says “There was a time when I didn’t know where God was calling me. I had a point where I thought He was calling me to be a theology major and I’m a Biology major now but I’m still not sure.” She pauses with a big grin on her face and looks upward. “He’s still working on the finishing touches.”
But how exactly does one become sure of their major? Choosing a major is like choosing a husband or wife-it’s for life. Choose wrong, and you’ll have to wake up to that awful morning breath for the rest of your life. Choose right, and you’ll wake up to your favorite breakfast dish, already prepared for you. Myers has great faith in Campbell’s career services.
“They have a test that’s kind of like a career test and when you take it, it kind of gives you an idea of what you can do with your major.” She also suggests that students do a lot of research as far as what their major actually leads to in order to make sure it’s not something that they’ll dread doing for their entire career.
Sometimes it’s a bit scary, choosing what you love to do as a career path. In an article on USA Today, there was a young man that majored in creative writing, which was something that he loved to do, but he had problems getting a job because employers questioned the practicality of his degree.
Smith says that despite the difficulties of some majors, none should ever be avoided. He believes students just need to work a bit harder to get to where they want to be. His daughter, in particular, majored in French. Her skills in French, paired with her writing skills landed her the position of managing editor at the French embassy the summer of 2012.
Ideally, one would rather have a major that they can easily work with but there are cases like this where you can major in something a bit more unexpected and enjoy it.
Smith also gave some advice on majors that are a bit harder to make work in the job force. He highly recommends internships. He gave an example about a fine arts student that enjoyed painting. You’d probably have to figure out a way to be an advertiser for a while. So you take your understanding of composition and figure out how to make money with it.”
All-in-all, Smith believes that you should simply enjoy yourself in whatever you do.
“The students that are going to be successful in their careers are the ones that are already seeing themselves in their career.” He puts a fist in the air and says, “Take charge of your destiny.”