Choosing the LAR Major
A Liberal Arts degree opens the door to new worlds and a mixture of academic endeavors, methods, and ways of thinking. All sorts of employment opportunities follow, and you may enjoy the freedom offered by the broad range of career opportunities. But how do you decide whether this is the degree for you? Consider the following:
Key points in your decision-making:
- Granted, this is an important decision, but don’t panic. If, after a period of time, you find that any major you choose is not quite right for you, it’s not the end of the world! Although you want to keep in mind that a new major may require additional time in college, majors are easily changed.
- The LAR major is flexible; many of the classes will fill B.A. and GenEd requirements should you decide to move out of LAR down the road.
- You will be studying in two academic disciplines – one in the Social Sciences and one in the Humanities - which will give you a greater range in understanding.
- You have six Humanities academic disciplines from which to choose and five in the Social Sciences, again providing a broad range.
- The two concentration areas can be matched to create a broader perspective for your studies and enhance your career plans. For example, concentrating in Political Science and English (writing option) would be a step towards a career in politics, journalism, speechwriting, and so on.
- If you have no specific career plans, matching your concentrations will still make sense in regards to your personal interests.
- If you have specific career plans, we will help you envision a path by which the LAR degree can help you progress in that direction. Law, business, social work, journalism....the possibilities are endless!
How to choose:
- Carefully review the academic disciplines in both areas: Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Research the required courses and electives in each discipline by cross-referencing the course catalog and links to required courses in each discipline. Read the course blurbs. Are you excited at prospect of studying any of the disciplines?
- Be clear about discipline-related pre-requisites that may be required; they will be your responsibility to fulfill. In addition, you will be required to take ENL 260 as your upper-level W (writing intensive) GenEd course.
- Imagine yourself taking the required and elective courses – in your mind’s eye, are you enjoying building knowledge in them?
- Remember that different academic disciplines carry different methods of research and thought. Can you determine whether any “think” in a way that’s comfortable for you?
- Spend time in the bookstore looking at textbooks assigned for some of the classes.
- Talk to your advisor or talk to the Director of the Liberal Arts major, Professor Jenkins.
- Talk to professors teaching in the disciplines that interest you. Ask to look at syllabi.
- Remember that hearsay about majors may lead you astray – or be right on! Ask peers, but analyze their responses for yourself.
- Take your time.
Although students have sometimes been successful with these strategies, for the most part, these techniques do NOT work well:
- Testing classes in a major. Several problems here: 1) You may be paying for a test class that isn’t for you – which you might have figured that out by doing a little research. 2) Lower-level classes do not always provide a true indication of the major’s focus. 3) Unless you position the class to fulfill another type of requirement (B.A. or GenEd), you may end up with a class that has not advanced your degree. Tip: Do your research in other ways (see How to Choose).
- Ignoring your own individuality. Pursuing a degree that a close friend shares or a family member wants for you means that you are neglecting the personal experiences that make you an individual. You may be close to another person, but that doesn’t mean that your passions are the same. Tip: Ask yourself this: If you could study anything in the world, what would it be?
- Choosing a major because a core course is conveniently scheduled. Tip: Claim your education – why would your schedule be more important than your mind?
- Pressuring yourself to make the one and only correct choice of a major. Will your life be ruined if you make the “wrong” choice? Absolutely not! The LAR degree is flexible - it’s meant to enhance your understanding of the world and your critical thinking abilities, two of the primary traits employers are looking for! You can always talk to your advisor about changing your major. Tip: Relax! And enjoy having control over your own education.