I need help with a decision at college.
July 1, 2005 5:36 AM   Subscribe

I have been asked to spearhead a pilot program at the community college I go to. It involves building old computers used by the school, warehouse work and selling them on ebay. I am a student and I offered to do volunteer work, when this was offered to me. Problem is, I spoke to cooperative education and they advised me I would have to switch majors to business in order to recieve credit for the hours worked.

The job is to go through about $70,000 worth of older hardware, select components and build basic computers from them. Then, students who cannot afford a new computer opt into a mailing list which they are then told about ebay auctions. The director of surplus was very excited I offered for volunteer work and told me to speak to administration, which is where the major switching comes into play. I have until tuesday, and this is my 4th term at college. What should I do? Are there ways around this? What can I do to make the best decision? Just so you know, my previous major was not computers. If I switch my major right now, what can happen?
posted by Dean Keaton to Education (6 answers total)
Does your college have any course/career advisors? I'd recommend talking to them first. Find out how much coursework you'll need to do to catch up going towards a business degree. This could cause a delay to your expected graduation date.

The next big decision is, would you rather have a business major than your current major? Are you going for an Associate's Degree in a two-year program, and if so, are you stopping there or going on to a four year Bachelor's program? What are your career goals, and will a business major help you attain them? You'll need to think about all of these things before switching majors.

I would seriously recommend thinking this over for a while - I went to college undeclared and found myself in a business program when my first choice of majors stopped accepting transfers from within the college. That being said, I don't regret the choice at all - I got a lot out of the coursework and it has led me to a successful career. It might not be for you though, so give it some serious thought and talk to an advisor at your college.
posted by TommyH at 6:13 AM on July 1, 2005

Depending on what your current major is and how much crossover there is in course requirements switching majors now could push back your graduation date (as well as force you to take more classes --> spend more $$$ if not on full scholarship.)

Most schools assign an academic advisor to each student -- I would speak to mine to get an opinion better based on your school's specifics. Also, have you explored all the possibilities for turning this into credit without switching majors? Maybe a different person besides your coop ed contact (your dean? registrar? head of independent studies?) could pull the right strings for you.
posted by Opposite George at 6:13 AM on July 1, 2005

realize, that "you have to change majors in order to do this" is just a rule. Its not a law, written in stone, passed down by God...its just some bureaucratic rule.

the problem with most school administrators that I have dealt with is that they think that rules are an end to themselves, and not a tool to help make the school run better, so you may be out of luck. You have nothing to lose in asking them to waive that particular requirement.
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 7:08 AM on July 1, 2005

Best answer: If your school does not have an independent studies program, speak to the dean in charge of the major you are presently working toward. Explain how this project is valid in terms of your major. Also, ask the director of surplus to go to bat for you. Changing majors might be a huge investment in time and money.

Since you volunteered to take on this project, it is possible that you are not eligible to get credit for your work. However, perhaps there is a grant (or potential grant) floating around the school somewhere that will allow you to actually get paid for your work. Perhaps the director of surplus is able to check any grants that might apply to this project. Even if you don't get credit, getting paid probably wouldn't hurt too much!
posted by necessitas at 8:00 AM on July 1, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you all for your help. One of the major problems going on with the school right now is a major lack of funding. In fact, they are asking people for donations. Literally, low funding. I doubt I would recieve money for my services. Another thing:

I went to college undeclared, and I am taking basic classes. Math, etcetera. I guess I fell back into that "what am I going to do with my life" things that typically haunt us younger types from time to time.

My current goal is psychology. But, I don't know what I want to do with it! Right now I am running a very small business building PCs for local clients in my area. I love the work, and I love not having to answer to someone else. Maybe, I could work for myself one day. A business degree would certainly work towards that.

I should speak to an admissions counselor as soon as possible. Thanks for everyones help!
posted by Dean Keaton at 3:31 PM on July 1, 2005

As others said, you should suss out what the repercussions of a major change are. However a major declaration for an AA is near irrelevant. For an associates in science it's marginally more important but if you intend to go on for a BA/BS it's not really going to matter at all.

This is based on my employment at MDCC in Miami, Florida so it's possible things are (a) different now than they were 9 years ago when I left academia and/or (2) different where you are.
posted by phearlez at 2:38 PM on July 5, 2005

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