Tiger Transcript

  • August 31"Pursuant to state law, no expression made by students in the exercise of such rights shall be deemed to be an expression of school policy and no school officials shall be held responsible in any civil or criminal action for any expression made or published by the students."

Joanna Mullen and Shannon Sullivan, Writer

As many high school seniors begin applying for college, a common question adults may have is, “What do you plan to pursue while in school?” After polling the senior class at Ipswich High School, 33% of seniors have not decided on a particular major. In fact, it’s estimated that between 20% and 50% of students enter college as “Undecided.” In addition, an estimated 75% of students change their major at least once before they graduate (Gordon, 1995).

An undecided student at Ipswich High, Sophie Harmon, thinks that many students “have so many interests that it’s hard to pinpoint one.” However, she does plan to have a minor, along with 84% of the class of 2019. Sophie is unsure of her minor but is interested in possibly “music, art, or environmental.” In the survey, 51% of the senior class said that they plan on having a minor. Although she, and many students, struggle to choose a major they often have an idea for their minor, as it is a less important decision. As Eric St. John wrote in an article titled Do Majors Matter?, “There is, perhaps, no college decision that is more thought-provoking, gut-wrenching, and rest-of-your-life oriented- or disoriented- than the choice of a major.”

While speaking with Mrs. May, a guidance counselor at IHS, she shared her college experience of changing her career path but not her major. She mentioned the role her classes played in changing her future. She suggested that “it’s hard to know what you want to do until you have exposure to different classes and programs.” Her ideas may explain why so many students struggle to decide on a major.

Aside from those who are applying to college undecided, the most popular majors for the class of 2019 are various forms of engineering. About 11% of the senior class is applying into engineering majors. This is followed by 10% of the senior class who plans on applying to business majors. The results of the survey showed that the class of 2019 plans on applying into many different fields. The least common majors for seniors at Ipswich High School were Arts, Environmental Studies, Psychology, and Graphic Design; these majors only made up about 1.6% of the majors chosen by the senior class.

College majors have fluctuated in popularity throughout the years. There are several factors that influence which majors students are likely to choose; the 2008 financial crisis is one of many examples of this. The financial crisis produced a significant shift in American education. Since this event, college students have turned away from fields related to humanities and began to move towards job-oriented degrees, often in the STEM field. Before 2008, disciplines such as history, philosophy, English, and religion were either becoming increasingly popular or continuing to be common college majors. However in the decade after the financial crisis, these majors dropped in popularity.

Health care has also become a common and competitive field. For example, the University of Massachusetts Amherst accepts 12% of applicants into their nursing program. This field is projected to add even more jobs in the coming years. The number of students majoring in health-related fields (nursing, pre-med and physical therapy) rose significantly in the past ten years. Roughly one in ten college graduates now receive a health-related degree.

It can be concluded that choosing a major is a stressful task. As technology increases in society, STEM and tech-based majors have become increasingly popular. Although high school seniors may have concerns about their future, going to school can help them explore their interests and find  what they are happiest doing. 

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Joanna Mullen and Shannon Sullivan