How to choose a major: advice from professors and students


By Davis Clark

Staff Writer

College, for many people, is a time of freedom and autonomy. However, this liberation comes with hard decisions, especially at the end of sophomore year when a Sewanee student must select his or her major. With so many fields of study ranging from Computer Science to Classics, selecting a single major for the next few years can be a dizzying prospect. Fortunately, as current students, we have the wisdom of professors and upperclassmen to instruct us in this process. Here are some thoughts from professors and majors in different departments to help the conflicted student:

“Psychology helps us know ourselves, understand our neighbors, and make all of us better people. If the problems you want to solve after college involve working with people, an almost universal requirement, then you should major in psychology.” Professor Jesurun, Department of Psychology

“History is not about memorizing dates and the names of men long dead. Being a history major is being an explorer. You have all the richness, the depravity, the wonder, and the stupidity of humanity to discover. It also allows you to understand what created the world you were born into. However, history is not written in stone and more work must be done to uncover the origins of the present. After all, without history humanity will blindly blunder into a future uninformed by its past.” Sarah Minnear (C’16) History major

“I have always enjoyed solving puzzles and then learning how they’re done. Computer science is not just the study of how to solve problems, it is the study of how to think about solving problems; it is constantly fascinating and the challenges it offers are always worth the effort.” John Hyatt (C’17), Computer Science major

“Why major in English? Major in English because language is the water in which we all swim. And that water is as complex and diverse as the human race, so analyzing literature enables you to study every major subject, from psychology to religion, from history to politics. In diving down into these waters, you learn more about yourself and your world and, significantly, more about others, which will make you a more empathetic and open-minded person prepared to meet the challenges of the future—and, if that weren’t enough, majoring in English will equip you to elevate the conversation during dull cocktail parties, golf games, board meetings and the like!” Professor Grammer, Department of English

“Majoring in Classics prepares you to be a Roman Emperor.” Professor McDonough, Department of Classics