Academic journal article College Student Journal

Choice of a Major and Students' Appreciation of Their Major

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Choice of a Major and Students' Appreciation of Their Major

Article excerpt

In this study, the interrelationships of students' choice of a major (art), selection of a career, role model/parental push (expectations/aspirations) and students' perception of a major (art and art education) as improving quality of life, were examined. Three hundred and twenty one students from various universities participated in this study (N=321). Results indicate that as students mature, they tend to appreciate their major (art) more and to perceive their major as improving quality of life. The effects of advisement, exposure to a major (art), parental push and role models, choice of a career and the Implications of this study are discussed.

Late adolescents/young adults undergo a tumultuous process in deciding whether or not to attend college. This choice of attending college depends on several factors, some of which include the following: sense of self-efficacy on a particular domain and hence a major, parental push or role modeling, aspirations to secure a good job and ultimately make money and improve the human condition. The ramifications of these factors extend to all fields of study, but particularly to art-infused curriculums. Art education has been viewed as a frill and not as a part of the American educational enterprise such as mathematics. Art has been seen more as a avenue for private enjoyment and development but not as useful as a public activity or an economical or political utility (see Pankratz & Morris, 1990). The factors mentioned above that influence students' choices to attend college are driven, at least in part, by developmental changes and need for self identity. Developmental theorists such as Erikson, see adolescence/young adulthood as a turbulent time and a period in which a sense of integrated self must be developed in order to be successful in establishing a vocation later as an adult (Havighurst, 1979). This establishment of a vocation depends, in part, on modeling or socialization (Bandura, 1993).

Therefore, unlike earlier studies on college students' selection of a major, this study, by intertwining Erikson's view of integrated self and Bandura's social learning theory as the theoretical framework, examines students' exploration of a major (art), students' appreciation of the major as improving quality of life, and the role played by external forces (through socialization) such as role models, parental push and income in the student's selection of a major. This study is guided in part, by the question posed by Pearson and Dellmann-Jenkins (1997) that further study is needed "on who or what influences incoming college students' selection of a college major" (p.310).

Integrated Serf and Selection of a Major- an Application of Eriksonian View

Erikson, in his study of adolescents' search for self, advocated that development of identity provides a firm basis for adulthood (Erikson, 1968). Identity development may not be fully accomplished by the time adolescents graduate from high school, but may linger and progress through the first years of college (Acher, 1982). When deciding on college majors, students who are still struggling with identity formation may base their decisions on interests carried forward from high school. Consequently, such students may not have had the opportunity to explore their strengths, weaknesses and the career opportunities available to them (see Marcia, 1987; Waterman, 1985; Marcia, 1980; Schiedel & Marcia, 1985). Such a lack of opportunity to explore may lead not only to foreclosing one's choice of a career early in their educational process, but to a lack of appreciation of one's choice. Exploration of either self or career choices allows for development of a philosophy of life and self-concept (Erikson, 1980; Marcia, 1987). Self concept, the composite of ideas, feelings and attitudes people have about themselves (Hilgrard, Atkinson & Atkinson, 1979) may increase as one's bank of self knowledge increases, thus, giving the individual a sense of control over his/her life. …

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