How do Mac students choose a major?

Choosing a major (or sometimes two, and often a minor or concentration thrown in) is no easy feat. Sometimes even the surest of Mac students change their minds multiple times before settling on a final path.

Undoubtedly, this kind of indecision is a well-documented phenomenon, common in all kinds of colleges and universities. Specifically at Mac, however, there exists such a vast and comprehensive array of departments (as well as interdepartmental programs) that it can be overwhelming to make sense of so many options. Students hellbent on humanities have been known to deviate from their intended path, straying into the sciences and social sciences.

Reasons for switching, however, vary almost as widely as the list of possible majors, so The Mac Weekly decided to talk to a few students about how they came upon their final decision to declare.

Mbemba Camara ’14 Majors: Sociology and Psychology Concentration: Legal Studies
I fell in love with psychology when I was in high school. I took a psych class that was really general but it really interested me: learning how people’s minds worked and understanding; how we as social beings interact with each other. I ate it up like it was cake. Sociology happened when I came to Mac. My FYC was “Sociology of Race and Ethnicity” with Mahnaz. In a way, it complimented my interest in psychology. If you’re trying to decide a major, do something that you think you’ll love when you’re 25 and when you’re 65. Experiment with the things that you might not be used to.

Imogen Pursch ’13 Major: Linguistics
I came to Macalester to study international studies, and although my first-year IS class made me rethink my plan and question my writing ability, intelligence, and often my existence, I stuck with it and now get papers back with comments that do not make me cry. The linguistics major happened by chance. Now, my friends are sick and tired of me telling them linguistic facts, analyzing their syntax, asking them to pronounce words, but luckily, I don’t care. My advice for those who do not know what major to choose is two-fold. First, shop around. Second, follow professors you like. If you like the professors in your department, even the dullest class can be entertaining and interesting.

Clemens Pilgram ’15 Majors: Economics and Geography Minor: Environmental Studies
It became fairly easy to choose which one was to be the major and which the minor when I found out that the Geography major requires only about half the number of courses than the Environmental Studies major does. At the same time, I am majoring in Economics because it makes me feel like less of an idiot when reading the news. Also, standing on two legs instead of one never hurts, and adding Econ to the mix makes me feel a lot more secure about my own future. During my high school career, I saw myself first as a computer scientist, then as a biologist and finally as a geologist before I went back to my early childhood love for geography. As a little kid, I would never have seen myself as anything other than a palaeontologist. Having doubts is absolutely normal, they give you an opportunity to question your own decisions and find new and better ways to justify them to yourself.

Jennie Kim ’15 Major: Psychology Concentration: Educational Studies
I decided on my major after taking a few classes in the departments and based on what I thought I would like. To that end I had doubts but I was lucky I was right! I went into Mac wanting to be an American studies major and a political science major with a legal studies concentration. Wrong.

Henrie Slocum ’13 Major: WGSS
My first semester at Mac, I took an Intro to LGBTQ Studies course with Corie Hammers. Part of the final assignment was to plan and implement an action project aimed at building community and fighting for queer rights. Knowing that the department was committed to furthering grassroots struggles for justice in a hands-on way was a huge factor in deciding to be a WGSS Major.