Can you help me help a friend to resolve his college major?
June 27, 2006 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me help a friend to resolve his college major?

I'm asking this on behalf of a friend:

"i'm going to list what i'm interested in, and i want people who have uni experience to suggest a major...

sound recording/engineering
music theory/history
web design
fiction/non-fiction writing/journalism
comparative religion there any combination of a lot of these that can actually be studied and applied to a major and any sort of degree?"

Suggestions of courses of study and universities that offer degrees in these (combined) subjects would be awesome. Any help would be greaty appreciated!
posted by supercrayon to Education (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know that SUNY Purchase College in NY lets you make up your own majors, so he could tie up all those interests into a major of his own design. But he'd need to narrow that down and have it make some kind of cohesive sense. They also have a major called New Media which encompasses a bunch of those, but it gets mixed reviews.

No matter where you go, you could just pick one or two of those and study the rest with the leftover credits and general education requirements.

It sounds like he will have fun in college either way.
posted by amethysts at 4:19 PM on June 27, 2006

Is he in college already? If so, what classes has he already taken? What about some sort of mass media or communications major perhaps doubling up or minoring in advertising? That can pretty much encompasses everything but religion hah.
posted by crypticgeek at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2006

That's a big list. Your friend should think hard about this.
It's all a matter of priorities. If this friend has passions in any of these areas, I highly recommend following those.

By the way, music theory, history, sociology, anthropology and comparative religion seem to all fall into academic fields, which usually means higher-higher education to be of any real benefit.

I currently work as an advertising copywriter and it is true that , as Luke Sullivan (i think) said, creatives are the rockstars of the business world.

There is merit to that, but either way you're still in business. Sometimes big, corporate, stinky business where logic is supplanted with fear.

Plus, you have to be ready to sell your soul. is "your friend"? haha just kidding...

Good luck!
posted by unwordy at 4:55 PM on June 27, 2006

When I was in college and having a hard time choosing majors, I realized that the required courses for one major could count as GEs for the others. I ended up getting two majors and a minor for very little extra work (maybe a class or two).

So, don't have a specific recommendation, but just wanted to throw out that it's very possible he can do more than one.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 5:11 PM on June 27, 2006

If he's planning on going to graduate school (and looking at his list of interests, he probably should), he should major in history, sociology, or English--something large that encompasses (or could potentially encompass) several of his interests. The fact is, many schools allow you a certain degree of flexibility within a major. Upon graduation (if I were him) I'd apply to grad school "cultural studies" programs like UCSC's "History of Consciousness."
posted by maxreax at 5:24 PM on June 27, 2006

I think this is a fairly common problem for people before they go to college/the first 1-2 years of college. Typically, one comes in with a plethora of interests (like your friend). Generally, once one does some research into career possibilities and/or takes some classes, the best direction becomes much more clear. Tell your friend to meet with professors in each field of interest at your university. Then, he can choose the ones he's most interested in to invest some elective credits in.
posted by theantikitty at 5:25 PM on June 27, 2006

It is also worth mentioning that his choice of major is not necessarily dictating a life path. He could major in one thing and end up doing something completely unrelated. A major just provides a focus to your college years. It usually doesn't lock you into that particular focus.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:51 PM on June 27, 2006

Joey Michaels and maxreax have it right--I'm a web developer with a geography degree. Honestly, no one cares what your first degree is in. Your friend could parlay any one of those divergent interests into a potential career, degree or no.

What does he do the most in his spare time? (I ask because coding started as a hobby for me, and now it's a job.)
posted by timetoevolve at 8:42 PM on June 27, 2006

" there any combination of a lot of these that can actually be studied and applied to a major and any sort of degree?"

This is the wrong question to ask. Instead, your friend should be thinking about life after college, and asking, "What kind of work do I want to do? What field do I want to work in, and how would I get an entry-level position?" Then, your friend should come back to AskMe with the answer, and ask "I want to work in X field when I graduate, and I think Y position would be a good way to get started. What should I study in college to prepare me for such a career?"

A college major is a step on the journey, not the destination.
posted by MrZero at 9:04 PM on June 27, 2006

At a glance, I would say that marketing and web/photography go together, and music theory, history, and sound recording can be reasonably done in any combo.

All lead to very different types of careers. I suggest your friend shadow someone in a related field to get some idea of what to expect.

My kids who shadow me in music know I try to put the fear of god in them before they commit to the major. It's a degree program that can be very insular and leave you ill-prepared for a change in career if you're not careful to nurture non-related interests.

A degree in music is almost always at least a 4 year program in itself -- it has its own core requirements of theory, sightsinging, piano, recital attendance, etc. You begin work on the major your freshman year and it lasts all throughout your undergraduate career.

It is very difficult to double major in a non-related field of study (huge courseload, ensembles are almost always inconveniently scheduled); it's hard enough to do as a single major if you're entering college with very little advanced credit from APs, SATs, etc. Lots of folks I knew in college did their AA at community college, so they could concentrated on music 100% once they transferred.

All the schools I know (not just conservatories) require auditions for basic admissions & scholarships, even if it is not a performing major. It's a very stressful thing to go through, and requires travel if the school will not take a tape.

That said, my degree (from FSU) is in music performance and it's something I wouldn't trade for the world -- I learned confidence under pressure, as well as how to teach myself, which is one of the best lessons I got out of college.

And what do I do fulltime? Web design. Hah. I had made it a point to keep up my non-music interests and it paid off. The web (which I do enjoy) funds my performance side-career and allows me to pick and choose my gigs, so I'm happy the way things turned out.

(And from the web design angle, my company is interested in work experience and good portfolios over degrees. They hired me, afterall.)
posted by Sangre Azul at 9:17 PM on June 27, 2006

I see ...

sound recording/engineering
music theory/history
web design
fiction/non-fiction writing/journalism
comparative religion

... and I think, "Hello, Mr. Video Game Designer," or "Hello, Mr. Film Director."

There are plenty of schools that do those sorts of things.
posted by frogan at 9:25 PM on June 27, 2006

Sociology. It's the easist. It's not like what you major in really matters. You still usually end up working for a car rental company.
posted by zackdog at 12:19 AM on June 28, 2006

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