Posts Tagged ‘major’
If you decide that you would like to apply for your department’s honors program, it almost becomes like applying for college all over again. You’ve been accepted to the school, chosen or applied for a departmental major, and taken many (or all) of the courses required to complete your degree. However, if you’re like me and want to give that extra boost to your resume, while simultaneously exploring your area of study in your own way, take these guidelines into account.
I came into my university knowing I wanted to major in Creative Writing, and that I wanted to write an Honors thesis my senior year. However, that’s not the case for everyone. Some students are double or triple-majors (depending on what your school allows) and might not have decided which program they would like to pursue a thesis in, if any. Sometimes the programs that accept or reject your thesis proposal end up making the decision for you.
However, once you know you might be considering an honors project in at least one of your majors, you should make an appointment with your adviser and/or other faculty members in that department to discuss the application process. If there is anything you can do as an underclassman to prepare and increase your chances when you apply, this will give you the ability to do so. Sometimes departments have students begin their theses prior to senior year, so it’s a good idea to make sure you know when the deadlines to apply are.
Have a Good Idea of Your Project
When you meet with faculty members, show them that you’ve been thinking about possible projects. This will demonstrate your seriousness in actually taking part in their program. Most of the time the department’s faculty members are the ones who review all of the applications and make the final decision. Make sure they know you’re serious.
Once You’re in the Program
Stay focused. When you’ve been accepted into one or more honors program, you can only choose one. Also, while you may get class credit for your project, you might not always be sitting in a physical classroom. Much of your work and research will be done on your own. It’s important not to forget that you need to be working consistently on your own time. This way, the bulk of your work won’t culminate at the end of the year.
Check in with Your Thesis Adviser
Again, don’t wait until March or April when your defense is only weeks away to really get into the guts of your project. Your thesis supervisor is your number one resource and you should be checking in with them at a consistent pace throughout the year (and the summer before, if applicable). If you need assistance or have questions, ask them.
Understand the Possible Outcomes
Cum Laude – Graduation with Honors
Magna Cum Laude – Graduation with High Honors
Summa Cum Laude – Graduation with Highest Honors
Depending on the institution, maintaining a certain GPA will allow you to graduate with honors as well. However, sometimes for the higher levels, you must complete and successfully defend your thesis. If you feel that you can take on the responsibility of completing an honors project, I highly recommend it. It allows you to experiment with the skills you have attained and the subjects you have studied, taking it all to the next level. Not to mention, it adds a punch to your graduate school and/or job applications.
The most important element of pursuing an honors project is that it is something that interests you, and something that you think will be beneficial to you and others in the long run.
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you will make, leaving an indelible mark on who you are as a person and carving out possible futures for you. We don’t often think of it in terms of real numbers, but your career choice can cost you a few hundred thousand dollars over the course of a lifetime. What is the cost of choosing passion over high profits and vice versa?
First let’s agree that everything has a cost. Waking up in the morning costs me $12 on average. $2 for coffee, $5 on gas, $6 on lunch and a $2.50 energy drink to get me through the afternoon slump. That’s before I even leave work, so it cost me $12 to work today. Such is life, and life without a sufficient amount of cash flow is stressful. Ask Obama’s hair.
Furthermore, we have all heard it 1,000 times, we college students, about how the humanities are “fluffy”, a waste of time, and unmarketable. We’ve also heard the counterarguments. Humanities majors can write and think critically and synthesize information. But let’s get real, most majors that involve following a passion involve a pay cut. As the education level increases, the less likely it is that it will pay off. A graduate student of philosophy, for example… need I say more?
On the flip side, having more money has a cost associated with it as well. Sometimes it costs you a passion, it will always cost more time, energy and relaxation with your significant other and friends.
I think of the progression I followed from elementary school (obsession with fame, MUST be known by everyone) to high school (huge un-channeled ambition to be a high-powered something) to the money-hungry days of my freshman year in college. I had to be rich, not filthy rich, I’d settle for something in the millions of dollars in salary a year. Not too much to ask, right?
Well, it’s not realistic for one, and even middle class wealth isn’t guaranteed anymore by attending college. A study conducted by Princeton University found that “Although income is widely assumed to be a good measure of well-being, researchers found that its role is less significant than predicted and that people with higher incomes do not necessarily spend more time in more enjoyable ways.” I think it’s fair to say that some people genuinely enjoy being workaholics, 80 hour work weeks, and pouring their purpose into their work. “Success” and $$ coexist in a 1:1 ratio for some people. What if you’re not one of them? Are you paying attention to that little voice in your head?
For me, I’ve realized that mid-level income is by no means mediocrity. There is nothing mediocre about my life. I’m surrounded by family that I love, I go to work every day to a job I enjoy, I feel accomplished when I leave, and I have spare time to hang out with friends, read a book or catch up on my favorite TV shows.
I have time to slow down when I want, time to hear my own thoughts. I smell the roses. College is a totally crappy time to slow down and think. What are the things you associate with the word college? Drinking? Stress? Being poor? It’s not a great time to slow down and think, but determining what makes you happy might be the most important thing you do in your college career.
I’m reading Life-Span Development
College is a time of change, discovery and exploration so it naturally follows that 6 out of every 9 students changes their major at least once. For some it is easier than others. For example, if you start out as a psychology major and switch to mechanical engineering mid-way through junior year, you will effectively be starting over. Changing a major can be expensive and time-consuming so it’s worth weighing carefully but for some it is absolutely the right choice. Struggling through two years of coursework to get to a great career is one thing, but grinning and bearing it through poorly suited coursework to get to a mediocre career is a whole other ball game. I tortured my upper-class friends in the months before I had to choose my major, ensnaring them with promises of Goldfish crackers and Red Bull in my room, then plying them for advice on classes and majors. Some gems that came out of my mouth during this period:
“Maybe I should major in politics! I hate politics and I can figure out exactly why it annoys me so much!”
“Who wants to sit around and think all day? How is that useful? I’d bet philosophy sucks. You’re a phi major—does it suck?”
I know, queen of tact over here. Luckily my friends are not easily offended. I latched onto Art History early in the semester before I had to decide, sophomore fall. One calendar week before declaring I saw a movie, Exit Through a Gift Shop that confirmed a nagging feeling in my stomach that I don’t really ‘believe’ in the value of learning to interpret art enough to devote two years of my time to it. A similar experience can happen with almost any major, whether you realize a year into your pre-med courses that you’re going to be doing A LOT of unexciting memorization of the composition of things you can’t see, to discovering that pre-law comes with a lot of tedious reading and cutthroat competition at every stage in the game. As much homework as I had put into researching my major, at the last minute I changed. I consider myself lucky. What if you don’t realize in time? What facts should you consider?
- Change in financial aid: There are specific scholarships and grants offered by colleges and universities for students who are enrolled in specific programs. If students are receiving one of these scholarships and change their major, they run the risk of losing the financial aid or receiving a smaller award.
- Added time (read: expense) in school, costing in both credit hours and lost earning potential.
- Unmatched skill set. Are you struggling to pass the requirements for your major? Many universities will give you an overall GPA and a departmental GPA that can hurt your resume in your field of choice.
- Wasted credits. Can you put those credits not applicable to the major you want to change to towards a minor?
- Passion for the subject. Warning flags you should be on the watch for: dreading classes that fulfill your major’s requirements, continually researching other majors, a nagging feeling that you’re not doing what you really want to do.
- You fell into your major. Did you pick the major because it was the path of least resistance? i.e., your English classes came easily to you so you concluded that it would be good to be an English major. This might not necessarily be the case, and the cause of that nagging feeling that you’re in the wrong major.
- Career choices. Are they too narrow? Are you worried that your major isn’t what your future employers won’t be looking for? Consider that your choice in major might not have as big an effect on future careers as you think, as the blurb below from Suite101 addresses.
“Before changing your major to increase your career potential, find out if your major actually is incompatible with your career goals. . . instead of changing your major, you might just need to get someinternships in your field of interest. ” – Suite 101
It may mean some extra work at a busy time in your life, but considering your options carefully and doing some ‘homework’ on the topic can be a real game-changer (thank you election cycle of 2000 for making that a buzz word). Best of luck and thanks for reading.
I’m reading Hole’s Human Anatomy and Physiology