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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Your major is not to major here

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It was during Accepted Students’ Weekend last year when I realized how unique the Carleton student body was. I was talking to current students left and right about their academic interests (oftentimes, specifically what they would or were already majoring in) at Carleton and I got answers like these.

“I might major in physics, but I also love Russian.”

“I have absolutely no idea. I do theater, poli-sci and psychology. Maybe I can somehow combine those into an academic focus?”

“I just declared as an econ major, even though I don’t fit the mold of an econ major. You know, I’m not a bro.”

This last comment especially caught my attention. It made me realize that whether we like it or not, society has established general stereotypes about the identity of certain college majors.

I feel like these stereotypes apply to various extents at Carleton. And I am certainly guilty of perpetuating some of these stereotypes myself. I’m not ashamed of this as we’re all human beings and initial judgments of people are somewhat natural. Some of these stereotypes seem to be very widely recognized.

English majors are quiet and quirky. Computer science majors are techy geeks. Philosophy majors over-analyze life and think they know everything. Chemistry majors are simply…well… intense. The list goes on and on.

However, while these stereotypes obviously do exist at Carleton, I truly believe that your major here does not define you as much as it does at many other colleges, and the key reason for this is that we cannot officially choose our major until the end of sophomore year. In addition, we have to complete distribution requirements and a writing portfolio, so even that kid who wants nothing other than to spend hours in the biology lab will have to take a course analyzing literature at some point. With the combination of these two years and distros, our niches can become quite varied. Just look at the quotes I mentioned earlier on.

I myself will probably be an international relations major, but after all, I’m only a freshman, so this is very open to change. I also have a deep interest in foreign languages, journalism, sociology and environmental science. Through the way I live my life here, I don’t think I am at all defined by my likely major. The way I see it, stereotypes of different majors are just light-hearted ways of joking about different academic fields, and in no way define one’s entire identity.

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