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Making your major decision

March 16, 2018

“I was a psychology major, minoring in music. Now I’m a chemistry major with an environmental science minor.”    

“I started as a biology major. Now I’m an American studies major and I’m practicing to become a midwife.”

“I was thinking arts administration, music, and business… now I’m making my own major–music marketing and finance.”

“I started at a business school but transferred because it was too limiting. Now double majoring in psychology and health and physiological sciences.”

These are the voices of Skidmore students that mirror national data: nearly 30 percent of college students change their majors within three years of initial enrollment. Depending on the program of origin, the numbers can be as high as 70 percent making a change.

How do Skidmore students find their major? To find out, we talked to five students about their personal journeys to making their own “major” decisions.

How did you choose your major?

Allison Dalton '19

Allison Dalton ’19
From business to psychology, health and physiological sciences, and maybe primary care

Allison Dalton transferred to Skidmore because she felt limited at a business school. Dalton, now double majoring in psychology and health and physiological sciences, said, “I realized I needed to be patient, explore my options, and have the freedom to change. I chose Skidmore because of its true liberal arts experience.”

Dalton is now combining her interests. “I’m passionate about entrepreneurship and alternative medicine. My plans include becoming a nurse practitioner, opening a primary care practice and focusing on alternative medicine,” said Dalton 

Logan Giberson '19

Logan Giberson ’19
From two majors and a minor to one major in music marketing and finance

Logan Giberson loves music–practicing it and the business of it. When he came to Skidmore as a high school student for an Accepted Candidate Day, he fortuitously met music professor Tony Holland. Holland shared with him his many options, from arts administration to music and business. But it was the self-determined major at Skidmore that hit the right note. 

“I took a gap year in Austin, Texas, and worked at a nonprofit producing an album of kids’ songs with at-risk youth,” said Giberson. “Once at Skidmore, I found business and music professors willing to sponsor me as a music marketing and finance major.”

Giberson is collecting hands-on experiences for his future in the competitive music industry. He sings in an a capella group, the Bandersnatchers, hosts his own show on Skidmore’s radio station, and markets the college’s community orchestra. 

Laila Morgan '18

Laila Morgan ’18
From biology to art history, practicing doula and maybe midwifery

Laila Morgan came to Skidmore considering biology and medicine but found fulfillment in the humanities. Morgan is now an American studies major. But, in an interdisciplinary fashion, she’s blended her studies with art history, English, and, uniquely, her “side job” as a doula, a trained, non-medical person who stays with and assists a woman with the childbirth process. 

Through the Tang Teaching Museum, Morgan even had the opportunity to display her own exhibition titled “Birthing Bodies” which doubled as her senior capstone project on birth justice and the role midwives and doulas play in it.

Devon McLane '19

Devon McLane ’19 (right)
From psychology and music to chemistry, environmental science and maybe math

Devon McLane thought about majoring in psychology and minoring in music. However, during his first semester in the College’s FYE London program, he realized he missed having a “whole science mindset.” Now, he’s a chemistry major and has been inspired to declare an environmental science minor. After further studies, he’s even considering adding a mathematics minor. 

McLane has jumped into his science studies, spending his summers doing research with a chemistry professor and an environmental studies and sciences professor on the nutrient health of a local waterway and its tributaries.

Jane Moretta-Miller '18

Jane Moretta-Miller ’18
From undecided to social work and adding political science

Jane Moretta-Miller was mulling over several disciplines but a social work course clinched her decision to make the pre-professional offering her major. However, she became “increasingly frustrated at the policy limitations that social workers face in their agency work.” This paved the way to declaring political science as her second major.

Moretta-Miller finds a lot of synergy between her majors. She said, “Social work means studying how I can promote social change for social justice. Political science means studying the systems in place that tend to prevent social change. In combining them, I’m able to observe how the systems might work together to improve lives."

What advice do you have for choosing a major? 

Laila Morgan

“Pursue whatever major feels the most exciting and the least like grueling work. When you’re doing something you really like, that you’re really driven by, that you would happily write 50 pages on or work on for hours on end, just keep doing it! The rest really seems to work out.”

Devon McLane

“If you major in something you find fun and exciting then you’ll never get bored of it and you’ll enjoy the job opportunities that open to you down the road. Pick the major that is best for you and nobody else.”

Allison Dalton

“I wish I had advice! Picking a major (or two) was a difficult choice for me. If it weren’t for the deadline at the end of sophomore year I would probably still be waffling over the decision!”

Finding your way at Skidmore

At Skidmore, you can choose from B.A. and B.S. degrees in more than 40 areas —in traditional liberal arts disciplines and the sciences, of course, but also in pre-professional fields such as business, education, exercise science, and studio art. 

Prior to arrival, new students receive the following advice from Skidmore’s Office of the First-Year Experience:

If you do not yet know what your major will be, don't worry. A liberal arts education encourages the evolution of academic and career interests and it is not uncommon for students to change majors several times to reflect their new interests.

Reality proves that every student–through classes, experiences, conversations with friends, faculty, and more–will find their own way. And, at Skidmore, we believe you’re here to find what’s right for you.

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