Students choose majors for different reasons

Mallory Kutnick, Campus Reporter

For some, coming to college means chasing lifelong dreams. For others, it means experimenting and trying to find purpose in life.

Students decide on their majors for many different reasons.

Brandy Matthews, a sophomore sociology major, found her calling in life from a single class.

“It was interesting, the way they applied concepts for society and why society is the way it is,” Matthews said of the introductory sociology course she took as a freshman.

Matthews originally planned to become a teacher, but she chose sociology instead of having to take the ACT again.

Haley Flanagan, a senior environmental studies major, started college studying to become a veterinarian, but said she eventually concluded that she was more interested in conserving and sustaining the world around her.

“I always knew I wanted to do something in biology,” Flanagan said.

Other students have found influence in family members. Martina Karmakar, a graduate student studying business administration, grew up in the textile industry, as her father owns a business making fabrics in India. Karmakar said she enjoys the process of adding chemicals and dying the fabrics. Eventually, she wants to design the machinery necessary for the industry.

Monica Burney, a graduate student studying history, found her interest at a young age, sparked by curiosity regarding her veteran grandfather’s refusal to open up to her about his experiences in World War II. Since then, Burney has been interested in different periods of time at different phases of her life. As a result, she did not hesitate to declare history as her major, both as an undergraduate and a graduate student.

“I’ve always been interested in the subject,” Burney said. “I’m fascinated by how things play out.”

The right instructor at the right time can be influential as well, as was the case with Madeleine Stone, a junior psychology major, whose high school psychology teacher introduced her to the subject and made her enjoy studying the brain and its functions.

“I fell in love with it,” Stone said.

She declared her major immediately upon entering Parkland College in Champaign.

Still others are shaped by personal experiences. Rachel Lindhart, a graduate student studying college student affairs, enjoyed majoring in Spanish for her undergraduate degree at Central College in Pella, Iowa. She studied abroad for a semester each in Mexico and Spain, and now she wants to work as an academic adviser for international education.

Some students may find themselves changing majors because of what their previous majors could mean for their futures. Such was the case for Seth Stutzman, a senior biology and chemistry major who has chosen to focus on pre-med and biochemistry.

The 28-year-old originally wanted to become a medical doctor, but further research told him starting such a career could interfere with his opportunities to start a family at an age he considers young enough. He also said he prefers research, an aspect he would not be able to use as an M.D.


Mallory Kutnick can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]