Students find calling with Ed. Dept.

According to a national statistic, two out of every three college students change their major at least once. State statistics say that at least 50 percent of incoming college students are undecided about their majors. Waynesburg University senior Olivia Latimer realized she was in that same position when she decided she wanted switch her major to education going into the fall of her junior year.

“I changed my major because after two years as a journalism major in the communication department, I still felt unsure of what I wanted my future to look like in that field,” said Latimer. “I had great experiences in the [Department of Communication], learned a lot, and was good at what I did, but I felt scared that I wasn’t passionate enough about that career.”

Latimer knew she wanted to work with kids when she went to change her major, and that sparked her interest in education.

“I decided to try to picture myself doing something I loved that was closer to my heart, and a field that I could continue to grow in,” said Latimer. “As I have always loved young children, I decided to change to early childhood education my junior year.”

Latimer knew about the Education Department, which helped her make the decision. When thinking of switching her major in the summer of her sophomore year, Latimer emailed the then-Chairperson of the Education Department Debra Clarke. Once she got more information, she knew what she needed to do to make the change.

Latimer found it easier to switch when she realized her friend, Ashley Kapp, also wanted to be in the Education Department. Kapp had previously changed her major twice before going into education her junior year.

“It would have been a lot more difficult not having somebody who I knew was right there in the same boat as me,” said Latimer.

Kapp also found it easier to go into education with Latimer by her side.

“I honestly couldn’t have made it through without Olivia,” Kapp said. “We transferred into the department at the same time and we were both in the same position and her friendship made the transition so much easier and enjoyable.”

Latimer did struggle with seeing her fellow classmates graduating without her while she still had another year to go. Although Latimer struggled with seeing that, she realized one more year was not a big concern to her.

“I always thought, what is one extra year in school compared to a lifetime in a field that I might not enjoy,” said Latimer. “So I found it more than worth it to deal with that fifth year.”

Current Chairperson of the Education Department Yvonne Weaver said that although education majors have a rigorous schedule, students can find success once they find a niche.

“Once the students make that decision on what they want to do in the education field, they can get on track,” Weaver said.

Weaver added that Waynesburg’s education program prepares students and shows them what they’ll be doing in the field. This is especially true during their senior year.

“Waynesburg’s program their senior year really prepares them well because they’re out in the school from the time the school district starts,” said Weaver. “So not only are they out the entire year but they even come back early depending on when school district starts.”

Brian Carr, director of the Center for Student Success & Disability Services, also said for students changing their major, it is a matter of having an informed decision.

“The career piece was always something that was more…appealing to me and just helping students to figure out their purpose in life and their calling in life and just knowing that there’s resources here to help students and that they’re not alone,” said Carr.