STORY BY ANNA JENSEN
Figuring out the future and the ways to get there are detailed processes that take a lot of schooling, experience and work.
For some, the start may be committing to a college undeclared. For others, it means coming in with defined major.
According to the 2014 databook located on Drake’s website, last year’s majors with the largest enrollment were actuarial science, marketing, finance, psychology, and biochemistry cell and molecular biology (BCMB) with 302, 210, 177, 174 and 155 students respectively.
These numbers encompass all classes, first-year through senior.
Pre-pharmacy is the second largest undergraduate program, with 229 first and second year students, behind actuarial science and their joint programs.
“We get these huge spike in majors that are oriented with rhetoric and sociology, politics, and in the school of journalism (in caucus years), and in off-election years we don’t get much of anything,” said Keith Summerville, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We do get an enrollment bump off of (elections).”
Despite Drake’s offerings, a lot of students have a hard time finding their academic place at school. They either commit undeclared and are open to experiencing a variety of classes and courses in attempts to find their passion, or they switch their majors and add minors after experiencing their prospective fields.
“I always want my students to be open to things,” Summerville said. “I think that people are increasingly willing to experiment with the menu of opportunities that Drake offers and there is some security in being able to sample courses across colleges or programs; most of our majors are 70 credits or fewer, so you have time.”
According to Summerville, in the college of Arts and Sciences, the incoming classes are usually around 350 students, and 80 are undeclared, which is roughly 25 percent coming in open.
“I think that students should enter school with (an undeclared major) because it gives (them) the opportunity to explore,” said professional career and development and academic achievement coordinator Chrystal Stanley. “I grew up in a really small town, and I had no idea my job even existed until I came to college.”
With the growing and changing industries, it is hard to say that the jobs in the market today will be the jobs in the market when incoming students graduate.
Even the options available in terms of majors are often unknown to students.
“I didn’t even know what (actuarial science) was until I toured Drake, and since I was undecided on my major at the time, my tour guide asked what I was interested in and I told him math,” said first-year Lindsey Gilberg. “He told me to look into actuarial science because it involved math, and it turned out to be something I was actually into.”
Choosing a major is ultimately subjective. Depending on the person, a major could reflect passions, it could be an opportunity for a future financially stable job, or the reasons and the major are still open to configuration.
“Your major can be influenced by a multitude of things,” Summerville said. “Passion, money, parents, teachers. I think it is about who you meet and who you know. I think that this combination helps you form an idea of what you want to do.”
College is often deemed as a time to find yourself. Decisions such as which direction life will go may not be made in four or six years.
“I don’t think that most of us know what we want to do with our lives until we are much, much older than (college level),” Stanley said. “It’s impossible to know that you want to be ‘this’ when ‘this’ might not even exist four years from now. It’s okay not to know what you want to do at the age of eighteen, nineteen or twenty.”