Why Creating Your Own Major Is Worth It

I am a double major in psychology and self-designed journalism with a minor in English. When I say this the first question I almost always get is: Self-design? What does that mean?

Well, it means what it says. I designed it. Yes, it was a bit tricky, but it was worth it.

I decided I wanted to be a journalist my senior year of high school. I went to Clark expecting to take the concentration in the English department, but once I got here, they dropped it. Lucky for me though, the classes stayed. So I had a decent time finding the classes offered here.

To be a self-designed major at Clark, you must get your area of study approved by the Dean of Students. Then, you must create a curriculum and find your "department". This means instead of having the one normal advisor, you have three. I luckily had already taken journalism courses and had made connections to the professors.

Finding 12 courses though was the trickier part. There are a limited number of courses in journalism offered at Clark -- six at the last time I counted. This means I needed to be a bit more creative in finding the other six courses so that I could major. I went abroad this past summer and took two courses there. I have created an internship course this semester and that counts toward the major, and then next semester I am hoping to study away again to take another two courses for the major. On top of this, I kind of have to create my own honors thesis, which I so far find to be the trickiest aspect as no one is really there to tell me if it's a bad idea other than my advisors, since no one has done a journalism major like this before.

But beyond the trickiness, it is so worth while. I have been in control of my education more than I can say I have been with psychology major or my English minor. I have been able to understand why I take certain courses and why I shouldn't take others. I am in control of how I can get to my end goal of being an investigative journalist. It is so much more meaningful this way, I believe. In addition, I was able to concentrate on what I thought was most important. I didn't have to take a course in creative writing or fiction writing or anything like that. Those aren't the courses that I need to learn how to write journalistically. I was able to push those aside and strictly choose what was best for me. I was in control.