Freshmen opt out of original school choices after fall quarter

Sean Lavery

Weinberg freshman Stephen Rees entered Northwestern unsure of his interests.

As Fall Quarter nears its end, some students are reconsidering the school they signed up for more than a year ago.

“I came in with a really nebulous view of what I wanted to pursue,” Rees said. “I thought maybe I’d be a lawyer. Maybe I’d be a teacher.”

It all goes back to his college applications, Rees said. His high school counselors, he said, were unhelpful during the process. Rees enjoyed his work with North by Northwestern, an online magazine, enough to inspire an attempt to transfer to the Medill School of Journalism.

“They just saw that Northwestern was a good school and told me to apply to the most generic college within the school,” Rees said. “I wish I could go back and realize that something I might be interested in would be journalism. Then I’d be in Medill, and this hassle would be over with.”

The process can be difficult, as several schools require students to take an introductory class or more courses before a transfer can begin. Medill specifically requires transfer hopefuls to take its curriculum’s introduction to the program, Journalism 201-1, before allowing a transfer. The class, however, reserves few spots for non-Medill students.

“Since it’s an individual school, it’s difficult to get a foot in the door,” Rees said.

Weinberg freshman Billy Choo said he initially signed up to study neuroscience despite a goal of becoming a music therapist. Still, after learning about the Human Development and Psychological Services track in the School of Education and Social Policy at an information session during the first week of school, Choo focused his efforts on transferring.

“I decided to drop MENU (an advanced math track) at quarter, which was one of the biggest decisions I’ve made so far in college,” Choo said.

He has been provisionally accepted to SESP, a move that has been mother-approved.

“I told my mom, and she wanted me to do whatever I wanted to do,” Choo said.

Rees, the Medill hopeful, said parental pressure played a minimal part in deciding his academic future.

“At first they were hesitant because the world of journalism is in a state of flux,” he said. “After I told them I’d try to double major, they were very supportive. No matter what, they would have supported my decision in the end.”

Drastic life changes do not stop once a student graduates from college. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher hold an average of nearly 11 jobs by the time they reach age 40, suggesting the “major” decision allows for career flexibility.

“It’s not much pressure,” Choo said. “It’s just recognizing what I want to do with my life.”

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