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Don’t let your major define your experience

By Sydney Shaw
Opinions Editor

With the first month of this semester behind us, now is the time when most students have finally gotten into the swing of their courses and are looking to add clubs, sports or other organizations to their schedules.

Many students join clubs related to their majors instead of branching out. (Michael Cort / Photo Assistant)
Many students join clubs related to their majors instead of branching out. (Michael Cort / Photo Assistant)

As a journalism major and a communication studies minor, it might seem predictable that I settled on The Signal when I was on a quest for my niche at the College. I have gained valuable skills here that I can apply to a future career in reporting, editing and writing in general.

But that does not mean that working with The Signal is only cut out for journalism majors, and it certainly does not mean that other clubs on campus do not have qualities from which I can benefit.

This may sound trite, but learning doesn’t only happen behind the closed doors of a classroom. There is something to be gained from every experience. The College stresses this to its students by requiring volunteer hours freshman year and encouraging them to join organizations like Greek life, sports and clubs.

When students look to branch out, though, many opt for selecting a place where they can employ or refine the skills they already learn in their majors.

The College also recognizes the importance of having a well-rounded education and taking classes outside of one’s major, which is why students have liberal learning requirements. Students should apply the same concept when choosing extracurriculars.

It will be well worth your while to push the limits of your comfort zone and try something new and foreign to you.

Join the American Marketing Association and discover a love you never knew you had for advertising. Improve your networking skills. Learn about the business world, because you never know where you’ll end up after graduation.

Check out the Art Students Association. Maybe you’ll fall in love with painting and declare a minor in Art History.

Follow the on-campus radio station’s motto “Open your mind!” and get involved with 91.3 FM WTSR.

Pushing past the tunnel-vision that many people have for their major can lead to discovering new hobbies, declaring new minors or even switching over to a new major.

A survey conducted by CareerBuilder in late 2013 suggested that a higher-than-expected number of individuals have careers unrelated to what they prepared for in college, so learning skills outside your major can only help you in the long run.

CBS reporter Lynn O’Shaughnessy wrote in an article about the survey, “Among the 2,134 workers surveyed, 47 percent of college graduates did not find a first job that was related to their college major. What’s more, 32 percent of college grads said that they had never worked in a field related to their majors.”

I still haven’t gotten to the best part of branching out — the new friends you’ll make.

In my first semester at the College, I limited myself to socializing with my floormates and a tiny group of other journalism majors that I had met in my intro course. Not surprisingly, my routine was more or less the same every week.

By my second semester, I had dramatically expanded my circle. I made friends in Student Government after covering the meetings. I met tons of awesome musicians that performed at the Rathskeller Student Band Nights. I made an effort to get closer to other students in my liberal learning classes.

Not only do I feel more comfortable on campus with a wider array of friends, but I learn new things all the time from each one of them.

It’s wonderful to find friends that have the same interests as you, but it’s just as important to surround yourself with individuals who have diverse mindsets. People with majors that are different than yours may also have different hobbies, passions and opinions that would benefit both of you if shared.

Whether it’s picking your clubs or your friends, don’t let your major define your experience.

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