Students Share Concern About Effectiveness of Majors


By Marshall Foster, News Writer


Common advice for prospective students: Make sure to pick the right major while in college, because it will set you up for your future. Every year, new freshmen enter their universities in the hopes they have picked or will pick the right major before they graduate. It is a rite of passage that every student must go through.

Picking the right major is one of the biggest choices a student has to make when they enter this new stage in life. Choosing the right major requires enormous trust in the university the student is getting their degree from to teach them everything they must know to be successful in the workforce.

Mechanical engineering major Jennifer Bracken said she feels that the mechanical engineering department has set her up for success, but acknowledges that her classes have only taught her half of what she needs to know for her future job. “I think it is 50-50 split between classes and in-the-field application.”

Bracken admits she thinks one of the main reasons the University of Utah has prepared her for her degree is because “the U focuses more on STEM degrees” with more STEM-based clubs available to students, as well as research opportunities. However, some students don’t share the same trust Bracken has in her department.

A sophomore kinesiology major who decided to remain anonymous explained that they think the kinesiology department is having a hard time keeping up with the changes in athletic training careers. They said, “There is a lack of communication between the larger careers that are undergoing change and the individual colleges those resources to students, so there is a discrepancy between those changes and what the students have in their knowledge.”

That anonymous student went on to say it isn’t just the U that is struggling to keep up with the changes within the careers, and that it is also a national problem, yet “there are some universities that are keeping up with the changes and the U is trying to be at that level, but they just aren’t there yet.”

Another anonymous student within the film and media arts program believes the department must do more for the students. “If I’m trying to do a film in my backyard rather than doing edits in a professional background and knowing how to have the dialogue to talk to pitching shows, they don’t talk about that stuff.” She also explained that “some of the classes don’t feel as if they are preparing me for real life … they talk more about movies in the past and how to develop them rather than how the industry is changing in the future.”

Senior biology student Amanda Currie said, “I feel that most of the classes are medically focused, as many students in my classes are pre-med. I want to go into conservation biology and there is only one conservation biology class.”

The outdoor spirit in Utah is a heavy factor in Currie’s choice of major, but her passion is not reflected in the biology department’s catalogue. “I think conservation biology should be especially important in Utah given that it has five national parks, much-protected wildland, and some of the most habitat diversity in the country,” she said. “I enjoy environmental and wildlife-type biology, but I feel that the U just doesn’t really offer what I am interested in.”

When asked if the biology major is geared towards the medical school, the assistant director of undergraduate studies and the chair of the curriculum committee in the biology department, Dr. Naina Phadnis, said, “Even though many of our students apply to healthcare-related fields, the major itself is not geared towards any one particular career. Our school of biology is huge and our faculty is made up of a broad and diverse group of scientists who study various aspects of life and its workings.” Continuing on, Dr. Phadnis stated the reason there is no conservation biology major at U is that “the goal of our major is to give students a broad knowledge experience that reflects the broad expertise of our faculty and also caters to students with diverse interest.”

Students who voiced concerns with their education come from an array of different majors, which seems to show that this isn’t an isolated feeling within one major in particular, but instead could be a university-wide concern. With talk of another recession looming over students soon to enter the job market, some students at the U are questioning if they are being offered an education that will help them secure a job in the not-so-distant but uncertain future.


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