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Students worry for future after pandemic, consider major changes

The COVID-19 pandemic has left some students considering changing their majors or transferring to a new school, but doing so can be yet another challenge


"For some students a major change can come as a quick inspiration, and for others it's a long process into discovering what they really want to get out of life." Illustration published on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.

Some students have changed their majors to better adjust to concerns surfacing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but feel the University has much to improve in the transition process.

Adjustments to online instruction in response to the spread of COVID-19 at ASU have made some students change to majors better suited to their pursuit of a career after graduation. The University's decisions over the past year, which students have criticized, have made others consider transferring schools or taking a gap year instead.

Viadel Valdez Santana, a transfer student, served in the U.S. Marines before attending ASU. For five years, Santana worked in information processing and data collection, which influenced his decision to major in applied mathematics.

Although he has only taken lower-level courses, he said he is having a difficult time keeping up with the curriculum and is second-guessing his choice.

"I'm not having fun with it," Santana said. "I'm just not enjoying any of it."

Santana said his decisions will be impacted by concerns about job security and finding a job he enjoys.

"It kind of puts it in perspective," Santana said. "I don't like basing all my decisions on how much money I'm making, but it's leaning more towards (that)."

Oliver Artus, a junior, was an interdisciplinary studies major before switching to business financial planning after his classes were moved to online instruction. 

"I don't cope very well with Zoom lectures," Artus said. "Not that my grades were struggling, but it was just challenging to really learn any of the material or even want to learn any of (it) when it is coming from a lecture on my laptop."

Artus enjoyed his previous major, but because of the new online environment, he did not feel as invested in his classes.

"It was giving me the general education that I wanted ... but then COVID hit," Artus said. The online classes made it challenging to learn the different subjects, which led to the "motivation to get more specialized" with a degree change.

READ MORE: Making Zoom work: Tips on making the most of online learning

In an effort to find another major he enjoys, Santana spoke to his academic advisor and took around 10 aptitude tests to help. Despite using those resources, Santana said he feels his search will have to continue after the spring semester is over. 

"It's kind of frustrating because I'm 24 so I feel like I'm a little bit behind my peers when it comes to joining the workforce," Santana said. "But at the same time, I don't want to be going into something unprepared so I'm really just in a limbo of, 'Do I know what I want to do?' and 'Do I know what I’m doing?'"

Jesse Mihaila, a sophomore, switched their major from psychology to filmmaking practices at the end of their first semester because they "hated" the subject and had prior experience working in the film industry. 

Though Mihaila changed their major before the University moved to remote teaching, they said the process was "a headache and a half."

Mihaila said although they had dealt with at least seven departments in the process, their major was not changed until the day before the start of the Spring 2020 semester.

"It was very, very frustrating," Mihaila said. "I shouldn't have to spend six hours on the Tempe campus running around like a chicken without a head, talking to a bunch of different department heads, to figure out what the hell was going on."

Artus also experienced confusion making the switch to his new major — encountering "a ridiculous amount of prerequisites" and strict rules to override enrollment.

"All of the advisors I have met are very helpful," Artus said. "But it was really just the structure of the classes that was the most limiting factor in deciding whether or not I wanted to switch my major."

Jason Bautista Pejay, a sophomore, changed his major about five times during his freshman year before choosing to major in tourism meetings and events.

Before this school year, Bautista Pejay was enrolled at UA, while taking summer classes at ASU. He considered finalizing his transfer to UA because of his dissatisfaction with how the University is dealing with COVID-19, but decided to stay at ASU because his newfound major was not offered anywhere else and he had the option to attend class remotely.

"I ended up not going because I found the tourism program," Bautista Pejay said. "But if it was purely a moral decision to be made, I would have left ASU in a heartbeat."

Although they were able to change their major to one they enjoyed, Mihaila's classes transitioned to a remote setting two months into their first semester, something they did not expect and were disappointed by.

"If I would have known about COVID months beforehand, I probably would have unenrolled from college and waited until the virus or the industry was back in full swing," they said.

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Kristen Apolline CastilloCommunity and Culture Editor

Kristen Apolline Castillo is the community and culture editor for The State Press. She has been working for the publication for two years, where she also reported for the desk.

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