Choosing a ‘little’ major

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Understandably, many students apply to BYU without knowing exactly what they want to major in or what career path they should pursue. They apply to BYU, not for the individual programs, but because they are attracted to the school as a whole. Once here they struggle to find a major they feel they can settle on. They jump from major to major, which may result in a delay of their graduation.

I was very fortunate in this matter. My selected major when I applied was geography with an emphasis in urban planning, and with just a few months until graduation, it still is. Why did I stick with it? I would like to propose to any prospective students or currently undecided majors that they consider the little majors.

We all know who the big guys are: exercise science, communications, psychology, etc. Those are great majors in their own right, as they often lead to high-paying jobs or are well trodden roads to law or medical school. However, for those students who are unsure of their career or educational goals, perhaps following the crowds into those majors is not the best idea.

Small majors have many great advantages that can help students feel welcome. Small class sizes for your major are an oasis during a freshman or sophomore year full of GEs. Faculty are not burdened with large classes and can meet with you individually instead of having to hide behind an army of TAs. Opportunities for research and internships are accessible to the average student rather than students having to compete against hundreds of others for them. Imagine having camaraderie with all your cohort in your major and sharing the common experience. Post-graduate establishments like to see diversity in their applicants, and a unique major helps you stand out. Our society has niches that need to be filled by students who have been specially prepared; unfortunately, we can’t all be doctors, lawyers and business managers. These benefits have enhanced my experience here at BYU and kept me rooted in my small major.

Urban planning has become my passion, and I highly recommend it, but there are others fields out there that have similar benefits. So to all who are in search of a major, you might want to consider the little guys.

Arnold Valdez
Nashville

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