Is changing your major a Columbian tradition?
While glancing through Spec’s list of 116 traditions, I paused at tradition #42 “Change your major. Twice.”, thinking “is that actually a tradition?”
So, like absolutely every Columbian’s reaction when their prof. asks a question about David Hume, I mused over that thought for hours, asking and answering my own questions. And here—with the help of a few friends—is what I came up with on the topic.
Do many Columbians change their majors?
Here are three common reasons.
Case 1: Student X had dreams of saving the world. Student X realized saving the world meant uncertainty, hard work, and less pay. Student X gave up.
A friend aptly put that changing one’s major wasn’t a tradition at Columbia, it was selling out on one’s dream of saving the world (more on this later).
Case 2 (Version 1): Class “blah blah blah” kicked my butt (typically Orgo). I now hate *insert major* (typically Chem).
As Spec’s residential SEAS kid, I’ve seen this one happen a lot. For Econ, I’d say that class is Micro with Elmes, for Chem it’s definitely Orgo, for Comp Sci it’s when you have to learn ugh, theory and pointers and stuff, ew.
Case 2 (Version 2): I hate major “blah” (…Econ), and I love major “blah blah” (…English), but I gotta make some dough when I graduate, so I’m gonna try and stick with “blah.”
I’ve never known anyone to successfully stick through Hated Major the entire way… Case 2 (Version 1) and the fact that people typically suck at majors they hate are usually enough to convince said person that 1) money is the root of all evil and as a sequitur 2) Goldman Sachs is the devil (there goes another job opportunity).
Case 3: Student enters the 116th St. gates with no clue what he/she wants to do. Two years later, said student is still clueless.
I’ll blame the Core for this one (yeah, yeah, Columbia heresy, sorry ’bout that). As a CC freshman, you’ll take 8-10 courses. Of those 8-10, around 4-6 of them (Lit Hum x2, FroSci, UWriting, and probably either the language, science, or Global Core requirement) are booked, leaving not a lot of time to figure out that major thing. The blue brochures advertise the Core as a way to explore what you want to do, but it’s the opposite (for the record, I’m hugely pro Core).
So in short, there are many reasons people change their majors, duh.
So back to the question: is changing your major a Columbian tradition?
It happens a lot at Columbia, but is changing majors distinctly Columbian? Clearly, major hopping happens a lot at other colleges, but it’s still distinctly Columbian because of the reasons people change. Even though the above three reasons are common anywhere else, they each have their own Columbia flavor to it.
We’re busier than most students fulfilling our Core requirements, it’s distinctively Columbian to have that save-the-world mentality that influences our choices of majors. And Columbia’s proximity to Wall Street/a host of other incredible opportunities makes selling out on that dream just that much more tempting.
So…boring but right answer: changing your major is sooo Columbian.
Mikey Zhong is a Spectrum opinion blogger and former Spectrum Editor. He’s changed majors once, and for none of the reasons above. He’s also looking for a job, preferably in Seattle where trout are cheap.
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