Changing Major: Cause for major concern?

BY  GENEVIEVE  KURTZ

Staff Writer

Advising time means many things to the students and faculty at Salisbury University: for students who are undecided in major, it is a time to consider or select potential majors; for students nearing graduation, it is a time to map out the last stretch of their time at SU; but for all SU students it is a time to organize and plan for their futures.

Like the estimated 50 to 70 percent of students nationwide who change their majors at least once during their time as undergrads, according to the University of La Verne, many SU students struggle with the costs of changing their majors and how this could affect their expected graduation dates.

In some cases, changing a major can be drastic and push a student to graduate in five or six years, rather than the traditional four years.

In other cases, like for sophomore Marcus Garcia, a student applying for admission into the Perdue School of Business, changing his major from business management to information systems has had little effect on his expected graduation date because it is in the same field.

Garcia said that he believes that when changing a major, it is important to “decide if it’s worth the extra time and work.”

“In regards to planning ahead,” he said, “you want to see how many courses you would have to take and consider options accordingly.”

Before applying to the Perdue School of Business there are certain required courses that all students must take. This allows these students to change majors within the business fields without it affecting their timeline much.

However, other students are burdened with having to take on a heavier course load after changing their major in order to graduate on time.

Senior Patrick Zarek started out as a dual major in economics and environmental studies, but later decided to drop the environmental studies and added a math minor at the end of his sophomore year.

He says he made this change because he was more interested in economics, and did not think he would be able to graduate on time if he proceeded with a dual degree. Because of the adjustments he made, Zarek has had to take on 18-credit course loads, including challenging honors courses, while also preparing for his honors thesis and applying to graduate schools.

Although there are a lot of different options in regards to majors and minors, resources to organize the confusion are available, such as the advising program.

But, academic advisors often have their hands full of other obligations – teaching full time, doing research with the university and being involved with campus organizations – which means advisors may not always be as accessible as students need them to be.

Though Zarek will still graduate on time, he says he has had to map out his future plans without much valuable assistance from his advisor.

He explains, though, that it is his own responsibility to “make sure everything is right” when it comes to graduating on time with all his major and minor requirements fulfilled.

Unlike Zarek, who is determined to graduate in four years, some students prolong their education over the course of five or six years.

Some common reasons students chose to stay in college longer and delay graduation include changing a major too late or taking up jobs or internships to work through college.

All things considered, SU has a much higher graduation rate than most schools.

According to U.S. News’ Education Rankings, SU’s four-year graduation rate is 44 percent. While this percentage may seem low, SU happens to have one of the highest four-year graduation rates out of all the University System of Maryland schools, which SU attributes to its low tuition, easy registration for classes which enables students to sign up for the classes they need to graduate on time and high student retention rates.

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