Majors Decided by Practicality
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 02:01
As weeks in spring semester quickly are knocked off the calendar, the time approaches when Georgetown students are faced with having to select a major, but according to some deans, the student’s selections aren’t so much based on personal inclinations but rather national trends.
Georgetown requires students to declare a major by the end of their second year — earlier in the case of certain schools — a fact that results in a rise in meetings with academic advisory deans across all four undergraduate schools.
For Academic Counselor and McDonough School of Business Associate Director Rebecca Cassidy, helping students through the major selection process brings up questions about life after graduation.
“We talk a lot about jobs and career thoughts and what they’ll do after school,” Cassidy said. “Particularly within the business school, the choice of major does tie in pretty tightly to what they want to do afterwards.”
Georgetown College Associate Dean Tad Howard noted another factor that may influence a student’s major choice: national interest.
“National conversations have an effect on what students choose to study,” Howard wrote in an email.
According to Howard, those conversations are resulting in an increased number of economics majors in the College.
“With so much media focus on the economy for the last six or seven years, student interest has moved in that direction,” Howard wrote.
According to Associate University Registrar for Student Systems and Strategic Initiatives Camilo Garcia, 201 students in Georgetown College have made their primary major economics as of fall 2013. This places economics as the third most popular declared primary major in the College — trailing only government and biology, respectively.
The School of Foreign Service’s international politics major, with its three concentrations, trumps the school’s six other majors with 227 declared students, while nursing remains the most popular major in the School of Nursing and Health Studies with 233 students.
There are slightly more finance majors in the MSB than nursing majors. Two hundred and seventy-seven business school students, making up 20 percent of the MSB, have declared finance as their primary major as of this fall.
The data does not take into account secondary majors, so Cassidy approximated that 60 percent of the business school majors in finance, when that additional consideration is taken.
“I think students are trying to find a balance between what they’re interested in and what’s practical, and there’s a perception that finance is practical,” Cassidy said.
To determine a student’s ideal balance between the personal and the practical, Cassidy recommends that students access the resources available to them.
“I certainly encourage students to reach out and have those conversations not just with their friends but with advisors, professors, even with the career center just to get different perspectives on what is right for them,” Cassidy said.
Data, absent of the SFS-Q, would suggest that many students will soon need to decide what is right for them, given that the current most popular major — with about 1,800 students across the NHS, College and MSB — remains “Undeclared,” in addition to the 686 SFS students listed as “International Affairs,” the school’s automatic designation for incoming students.