o-individualizedminor

I have struggled to find my place in college. Like many people, college has turned my world upside down. In my freshman year, I changed my major four times. I had spent my life wanting to be a doctor, though in less than a month I realized it wasn’t the right path for me. 

I tried my hand at science, business and any other major that would promise a lucrative career. It was during this experimentation that I found a fundamental truth about myself. I was born to write.

Writing was something that I excelled at but never thought about. I believed that English and writing were unimportant, which made coming to terms with my true passions difficult. I want to be an author, though it’s a notoriously difficult field to be successful in. One of my favorite professors told me, “If you truly want to be a writer, be a teacher to pay for it.”

I took his advice to heart and found myself majoring in secondary education to become an English teacher. I got my job at The Daily Nebraskan, figuring that if I really wanted to be a writer, this job would prove it — and it did. I found myself enjoying education as well, a major that has stuck with me.

My biggest issue was finding a minor to be passionate about. Since my major is based in English, I could not take up an English minor. While I tried out journalism, a few classes didn’t excite me, and I was left wishing for more specific English-related minors. I would scroll through the classes and point out electives I wanted to take. 

With over 10 creative writing classes, I was confused as to why there wasn’t a creative writing major or minor. From creative nonfiction to advanced fiction writing, all I wanted to do was take these courses and have it be approved as its own minor, not just be shoehorned into a different minor I disliked. 

Creative writing fits me perfectly, and it would have a valuable set of classes to push me forward in my writing prospects. I gathered up information to argue a creative writing minor to my academic advisor and potentially the English department. That’s when I learned that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln does have an individualized major and minor program.

I found out about the individualized major and minor program through a Google search. I had this idea in my head that if I couldn’t have a creative writing minor, then maybe I could convince the university to help me make one. When searching for how to create a minor, I found pages on the UNL website about the program. It seemed that the program was hidden in plain sight.

If there is a special field that is not specified within the current list of majors and minors, then students within the College of Arts and Sciences can work with an academic advisor to create their own program of study.

I went to an academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences, which is not the college my major is in. They were helpful in providing information about the process, but it seemed like the individualized major or minor is structured on a case-by-case basis. 

The individualized programs have to be verified by a college accreditation agency. This verification ensures that the coursework fulfills requirements to earn the desired degree. 

While I will not be creating my own major, I will most likely be going forward with creating my own creative writing minor. For the minor, students need 24 credit hours in total with at least 12 of the credit hours coming from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Even though creating a minor requires more effort than choosing a traditional minor, I feel like I have found my place at college through the individualized minor program. The individualized major and minor program is a great resource every student should be aware of. 

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to study. I believe no college student should be pressured into a major or minor they are not passionate about. For the amount of time and money we will be spending in college, we should not have to pay for anything less than fulfillment. 

If you don’t quite fit in and don’t mind a bit of extra work mapping out a major or minor, then an individualized program may be a solution to consider.

Alexia Woodall is a sophomore secondary education, secondary English and journalism major. Reach her at alexiawoodall@dailynebraskan.com.