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2013 Spring Issue 2 (April 19, 2013)

Class of 2015 Majors: The Breakdown

April 23, 2013
By Ayumi Tachida

With the exception of eight holdouts as of Monday, the 514 members of the Class of 2015 finished declaring their majors by 5:00pm last Friday. Continuing with last year’s trend, Biology once again had a strong turnout, and the growth in Computer Science majors continues again this year.

“Biology and Political Science (as long as you count the Political Science/IR major as within Political Science Department**) have been trading places for more than the last decade for the most popular major--with BIOL mostly ahead in the last 5 years,” noted Arjendu Pattanayak, Associate Dean of the College.

“Computer Science is a young department and clearly growing rapidly. We recently increased the size of their Department and will certainly consider increasing it again.”

He also noted an increase in double majors in the classes of 2014 and 2015, attributing it to “the change in distribution requirements” that have made certain majors more compatible for double majoring.

Some sophomores seemed to have been born into a major; Justin Berchiolli ’15, for instance, became interested in history early on due to his love of reading. Alex Leal ’15 was another for whom the decision was fairly straightforward. “I’ve always liked Bio; I was the kindergartener that wanted to become a paleontologist,” he remembers. “Now, knowing the science behind medicine fascinates me.”

Other sophomores, however, agonize over the major decision.

“When I first came to Carleton, I thought I was going to study Chinese and Political Science,” said Henry Southwick ’15. Later in his Carleton career, he developed an affinity for both English and History, and though he tried to work out a compromise, he could not choose both. “I felt like part of my identity was being lost,” he said. “I’m still not entirely at ease with my decision, but I’m getting there.”

“I love the study of literature, working on a cultural theme in books, and loved talking about it and doing the reading,” he said. He describes Peter Balaam’s American Transcendentalism course as one of the most validating experiences he has had, and feels a special connection to the English department, which he describes as “really nurturing and supportive.”

“I want to be the next J.K. Rowling and follow the dream,” he said.

A sophomore’s major choice is often a reflection of the different ways students have learned to perceive the world around them.

“Everything in the world around us is history,” Berchiolli remarked. “When you think about it, it’s already history. The world we live in today is an exact result of its history, and by knowing where we came from, we can know where we’re going.”

“The real world is moving more and more toward the virtual world,” said Sydney Delp ’15, a Computer Science major. She was first drawn to the major by the prospect of “hacking things”.

“The first three courses I took I didn’t like that much, but I’d like to use my powers for awesome,” she said.

Congratulations to the members of Class of 2015 on this major milestone in their Carleton careers.

**Editor’s Note: At the request of the Political Science Department, we note that Political Science and International Relations are in fact two tracks in the same department, so they count towards the same major.

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