Policy change in declaring a major affects students


For most students the decision to study at BYU is not a difficult one. According to BYU enrollment statistics, nearly 80 percent of those accepted decide to enroll at BYU, placing it among some of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

However, while the choice to become a cougar may be a simple one, once arriving many students struggle to select a major and graduate in four years.

Though administration was unable to comment, a policy regarding the declaration and pursuit of a degree has changed. It was recently announced that all students must declare a major by the time they have earned 60 credits. This is typically the number of credits a student would have at the end of their sophomore year.

Furthermore, in addition to having to declare a major, students also cannot change that major after earning 75 credits without special permission. For many BYU students, their time is running out.

Brendan Smith, a fifth-year senior from Durham, N.H., and now a computer science major, recently redeclared his major after pursuing many other fields.

“I first wanted to be an animation major,” Smith said. “I went to the HFAC and up to the office to get one of their informational fliers, and it said in big letters, ‘If all you can draw with a pencil is junk then all you can draw with a computer is shiny junk.’ I decided that considering my skill with a pencil, it was not for me.”

Smith vacillated for a few years after that and ultimately declared his current major in computer science.

“I took creative writing classes, I took human development classes, I took religion classes — I was thinking about being an institute teacher,” Smith said. “I started taking computer science classes about a year after my mission and decided it was the most enjoyable and to pursue a degree.”

Daniel Sawyer, from Springfield, Va., is also a fifth-year senior and is currently applying to the mechanical engineering program.

“I first declared as computer science and then decided that wasn’t for me, so I switched to physics, and then after that I switched to mechanical engineering,” Sawyer said.

Had the policy been in place while Sawyer was deciding on an educational path he may have ended up in a major he did not enjoy. Even so, he is facing three more years of school.

“If I had to choose a major and not change by 75 credits, I may have considered it more carefully, but at the same time I would have had a hard time continuing on with either of the other two majors I considered,” Sawyer said.

Many students also express frustration in not understanding how to assess either their interests or majors available for them to study.

Jordan Hughes, from Alpine, is in his junior year and is teetering on possibly making one more change. He is applying to the Industrial Design program, but he was not aware the program existed until June of this past year.

“I have been taking things pretty slow,” Hughes said. “If I don’t get in, I have to consider other majors, possibly manufacturing engineering. I’ve gone to academic advisors, about three or four times. Usually they said, ‘Let’s take a test and see what you’re interested in’; this last time I went in, though, it was a counselor named Jim who really helped me learn more about this major.”

Declaring a major is a life-changing decision, one that many face with a little apprehension. Hopefully with a new policy change, students will begin considering early on what classes interest them to allow them to finish quickly and pursue a successful career.

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