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Major Requirements, the Hamline Plan, and Being Undecided: Can You Do it All?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hamline chapter.

“I’m an undecided major as of right now.”

“I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up!”

“I don’t even know if this is the right major for me.”

Chances are you have either heard or spoken something similar to these phrases. I have recently been in several conversations about the stress that deciding on a major brings,ach time, there has been a professor or authority figure to overhear us and  add their thoughts on the topic: It’s okay to be undecided! That’s the beauty of a liberal arts school. Just keep exploring until you find what interests you most!

On the surface this answer sounds comforting. A liberal arts degree—free time to explore whatever piques your interest and gives you the ability to dabble in several fields of study. Who wouldn’t love that? However, as a first year trying to plan and prepare while also following my dreams, I can testify that this process isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Most majors require 11-12 courses minimum. Most follow a traditional trajectory, with introduction classes serving as prerequisites for harder, more specific courses later on. This seems reasonable, as a major gives a student proper knowledge to obtain a job in their field of study. However, there are other factors involved with students’ graduation path that complicate things. For example, many students either double major or minor in another field of study, which adds 6-12 more required classes. Double majoring or minoring is very common among undergraduates who are trying to best support their education for future employment opportunities. Additionally, the Hamline Plan was devised to provide a wide range of study for each student. It includes:

  • a first year seminar

  • first year writing and 1 writing intensive each year

  • 2 speaking intensive courses

  • 1 formal reasoning course

  • 1 quantitative reasoning course

  • 2 fine arts courses

  • 2 humanities courses

  • 2 natural sciences (and one with a lab!)

  • 2 social science courses

  • 2 diversity courses

  • 1 global citizenship course

  • 1 collaboration course

  • 1 independent critical inquiry course

  • 1 LEAP (Liberal Education as Practice) course

Phew! Yes, you’re right—that’s a lot. And, granted, courses for a student’s major may already give them many of the credits they need, but it still means that students must be carefully checking each course and spending extra time fulfilling the other requirements. Now let’s double back to the whole undecided major status. As you might have guessed, it is incredibly hard to either be undecided and “explore” or change your major throughout your years. With all the classes Hamline requires, you must plan your schedule meticulously, as a typical student only has 8 semesters in college. While this problem is definitely not exclusive to Hamline, it provokes some questions for us to think about: Are liberal arts colleges truly allowing students to explore a major if they are undecided? Is there too much pressure on students to declare a major, and is there enough time to make sure your major is what you want?

Personally, I feel kind of pressured. It’s possible to change majors or explore, but it’s super difficult to fit in all your requirements if you end up doing that. On the other hand, I have had conversations with people about how your skills and experiences may be more important or just as useful as your major. Whatever your opinion may be, it’s definitely something to think about. Start thinking about this now, and plan ahead for both  an enjoyable and efficient college experience!

Emma Harrington is a first year at Hamline University studying English and Creative Writing. Besides writing, she enjoys singing in the A Capella Choir, dancing, running, and being outdoors.
Skyler Kane

Hamline '20

Creative Writing Major, Campus Coordinator for Her Campus, and former Editor and Chief for Fulcrum Journal at Hamline University