Is it possible to graduate from college without having a formally declared “major?”
During our evening tour of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, our group of college and independent counselors learned that yes, it’s entirely possible. How? They attend Juniata, of course!
You see, students at Juniata don’t pick “majors” during their four years there; they select a “program of emphasis” (“POE“). The advantage is simple: Each program of emphasis is unique to the student who selects (or self-designs) it and, thanks to an academic system that makes sure each student has not one, but two faculty advisors, it means that the students at Juniata are part of a liberal arts learning experience that is truly one of a kind.
“But Randi,” I can hear you say, “what if I have absolutely no idea what I want to study in college or what I want to do for a career? How would I get started at Juniata?”
It’s simple: Every student gets sixty credits worth of general education as part of their path through Juniata and, with two advisors to brainstorm with, any student should be able to take those introductory courses in the sciences, humanities, arts, and social sciences and find the path that excites them. If you’re not creative and you wish to follow a path that a former student has taken, that’s okay too – the faculty has designed some pre-established POEs to guide you. (In truth, only about 25 percent of Juniata students fully create their own POEs; the other 75 percent select pre-designed programs.) And don’t worry about career possibilities either – approximately 80 percent of Juniata students do an internship before graduation to gain the necessary experience to become employable.
The ability to choose one’s own path at Juniata also extends outside of the classroom. While only about 30 percent of the campus participates in varsity athletics, closer to 50 percent compete in athletics of some kind (intramural, club, etc.). What’s more, if you’re of an artistic mindset and search YouTube for Juniata videos or take a look at posters or other photographic representations of campus, you should know that each and every video, poster, or picture has been taken by a student. The even produce and edit the web videos – talk about practical experience!
(Fun fact: At present, six alumni of Juniata’s digital media program currently work in digital media at Penn State – a school that produces hundreds of its own digital media alumni annually.)
And Juniata students also know how to have fun – especially each fall when “Mountain Day” comes around and everyone gets a free day off from classes to head to a nearby state park for a day of picnicking, tug of war, and flag football.
Equestrians, don’t feel left out – though Juniata didn’t field a competitive IHSA hunt seat team this year as they have in years past, they maintain an equestrian club on campus and are situated nicely in the middle of some very nice horse country. (Maybe the team just needs a new enthusiastic crop of freshman to bring them back to life – how’s that for choosing a path?)