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Students discuss OU’s uncommon majors

From engineering to journalism, Ohio University has over 250 programs that provide students with a compelling education. Despite students’ interest in OU’s popular programs, it is important to explore the majors that are not as common but continue to educate and create opportunities for Bobcats. 

According to OU’s enrollment data, three of the majors studied by first-year students that showcase low enrollment include philosophy, industrial and systems engineering and linguistics. Between 2016 and 2022, first-year students who studied these majors averaged under 10, all with the highest enrollment in 2018. 

Although each student has their own interests, it is fascinating to discuss why students steer away from majors such as these.

Chloe Fabricante, a sophomore studying philosophy, expressed her thoughts on why students do not commonly major in philosophy. 

“I really do think that a lot of people don’t know what philosophy is,” Fabricante said. “If they do know what philosophy is, they hold the very commonly held view that as Dr. (Jeremy) Morris in our department puts it, ‘Philosophy is for people who have time to waste.’”

Fabricante further rebutted this statement, discussing the importance of philosophy, as it not only improves basic skills such as reading and rhetoric but also provides an understanding of human mannerisms. 

The engineering and technology program also consists of several majors; however, industrial and systems engineering is significantly lower in enrollment compared to the others.

Caroline Incanno, a freshman studying industrial and systems engineering, talked about the positives to studying in her major, as well as the influence of her professors. 

“I think that’s what is so special about ISE,” Incanno said. “You can make these kinds of close connections with the staff … there’s such a broad range of experience held by the ISE professors.” 

Despite her enjoyment of the program, Incanno mentioned how many students often end up switching from ISE to another branch of engineering, as the major is broad and helps students narrow down their specific interests within the field. 

Alongside their interests, students’ backgrounds and connections play an important role in deciding a major. Whether their interest originates from family traditions, traveling or curiosity about different cultures, each student has a specific reason for choosing their major. 

Aidan Hosler, a freshman studying linguistics, discussed what inspired him to study linguistics and how he connected with his major. 

“I started teaching myself German and learning about German culture,” Hosler wrote in an email. “This sparked a love for languages and cultures.”

Hosler continued to talk about how he plans to earn his certification in German, and his goal is to work with people from around the world. 

Although some majors lack high enrollment, with the amount of programs at OU, each student is bound to find the perfect fit. According to Brian Collins, the chair of classics and religious studies, the program currently consists of only 35 students after combining with the classical languages and world religious departments in 2021. 

Reyna Mazur, a freshman studying classics and religious studies, talked about her interests and how she combined them to discover the program. 

“I feel like leaning more toward the humanities brought me to this major,” Mazur said. “I’ve always loved history, and I love literature, but not enough to make those my main course of study. I felt like this was a perfect match.” 

Mazur continued to discuss how people often steer away from the classics department due to the assumption it only revolves around museum and academic studies, thus creating limited job opportunities.

However, the chairs in the classics department, Dr. Collins and Dr. Drogula, illustrated the different types of job opportunities available for Mazur and her classmates. 

“Dr. Drogula is one of the chairs in my department, and he and Dr. Collins put together a pamphlet of all the different jobs that you could possibly get from being a classics major,” Mazur said. “Classics helps develop critical thinking skills and helps you understand how other people are thinking or how they could be thinking.” 

When studying a certain field, students need to remember they can expand their knowledge and explore different topics outside of class. Fabricante discussed how the Philosophy Club welcomes new students and encourages them to learn without feeling the pressure of commitment. 

“It’s super fun, and we learn about philosophy, and we also do fun presentations and stuff,” Fabricante said. “It’s a great opportunity to just learn more about it and kind of just explore a little bit without committing to anything.”


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