Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Declaring My Major: a Journey Years in the Making

Benjamin Jagolinzer
October 17, 2017

It’s hard to believe that I am writing this post as a junior who is over a month into his third year of college. In some ways, it has felt like these past two years have flown by; I can hardly separate the individual memories and times I’ve had on the Hill. In other ways, it feels as though I’ve just begun my collegiate career. I have so much more to learn.

This was my state of mind just a few weeks ago as I stepped into the registrar’s office to declare my major — the culminating moment of over two years of classes, almost 20 different courses. Here I was, about to commit my final two years at Kenyon to the economics department. Just how did I arrive at this decision? The path was not nearly as linear as one might think.

At Kenyon, unlike at many schools, registration does not occur until the first years arrive on campus. This ensures that they each can meet with their academic faculty advisor and Orientation Leaders (OL) before they enroll in their courses for the first semester. In my meetings with my advisor and OL, I knew little more than I liked math and chemistry. Somehow, I wound up with a math course, a chemistry course and lab, a political science course, and a psychology course. It was quite the eclectic schedule.

In many ways, this is how college should be: an opportunity to explore anything and everything that is intellectually stimulating. Although I am clearly not a chemistry, political science or psychology major, I am still very thankful I had the chance to explore these disciplines and make that decision for myself. This is the crux of a liberal arts education. By allowing students just over two years to decide on a major, in addition to the various distribution requirements that mandate a small sampling of every academic division, every Kenyon student is ensured a well-rounded and thorough education.

Even in my second semester at Kenyon, I took a math course, two chemistry courses and a music class. Not one of those directly led to the economics major that I am currently on track for, but they all contributed significantly to the scholar I am today. Of course, there exists a practical limit where the exploring must come to an end. In my first semester of sophomore year, I enrolled in my first economics course and fell in love with the discipline. After not finding a major that had clicked with me up until this point, a long journey since my first classes in August of 2015, I was ecstatic.

Two years later, I was ready to walk into the registrar’s office with my major declaration form in hand. This was it: the moment that all my hard work and countless hours of studying had led up to. The worker who processed my form smiled at me, said congratulations, and offered me a sticker, which is currently stuck on my door. It was anticlimactic, to say the least. But upon further reflection, it should be anticlimactic. Declaring a major marks nothing more than a checkpoint along the collegiate journey, not a destination. As I alluded to before, there is so much more that I must learn as a scholar and an academic before I draw my time at Kenyon to a close. I have simply transferred to a straighter, more structured path as an economics major.