Indirect effects of pandemic cause Baruch freshmen to change intended major

Intelligent.com

Salman Ahmed | The Ticker

Maya Demchak-Gottlieb

A recent report by Intelligent.com found that the pandemic and calls for social justice impacted anticipated major choices of over 40% of incoming freshmen in the United States.

When surveyed by The Ticker, a majority of Baruch College freshmen said their major choice was not directly impacted by the pandemic.

However, the students reported being influenced to change their major for economic and emotional reasons due to the pandemic’s indirect effects on society.

While the Intelligent.com survey found that the pandemic influenced choice of major for 42% of college freshmen, only 23.5% of polled Baruch students said the same.

Even fewer students said that recent social and political events affected their decision, with only 8.8% indicating that it was a factor in the selection of their major. Future job and financial stability were common factors that impacted the decision of Baruch students who experienced a change in their intended major.

Some students, like accounting major Natalie Chen, selected majors that offer broader career options to increase long-term career stability.

“With a finance major you can only stay in your field of finance,” Chen said. “With an accounting major, you can stay in the field of accounting or explore the finance and economics fields.”

Another student who considered job and income stability was Peterson Cruz Jorge, who is interested in majoring in either marketing or real estate.

“I did research and noticed that many people lost [their] job during the pandemic and I want a major that can help me get assets that I can use towards getting a side hustle,” he said.

The economic consequences of the pandemic have motivated some students to research the job market for their intended major as well as other majors they might not have considered.

The pandemic provided some students like Jennifer Vazquez, a business communications major, with the opportunity to explore areas of interest through online programs.

“I was going to go to the field of engineering specifically in 3D modeling,” she said. “However, as I participated in online programs due to the pandemic, on engineering the coaches had said that [there] isn’t a field for 3-D modeling due to the lack of job fields.”

Other students focused more on the emotional, rather than economic, ramifications of the pandemic when considering their major.

Jazmin Ortiz cited mental health struggles created by the pandemic as a motivator for a shift in her intended major.

“I chose … adolescent development in the psychology field due to the decline in mental health on many young students during the pandemic,” Ortiz said.

For other students, the pandemic has affirmed their interest in psychology.

Psychology major Agnes Cheung’s interest in the field comes from the need “to fight against the stigma of mental illnesses.”

For some students, the pandemic created greater challenges for their career interests, but also reinforced the importance of their intended occupation.

“I’ve always loved English and just the thought of teaching brings me joy,” English major Arleth Robles said. “I want to bring some kind of peace to these kid’s lives that I wish I had from my teachers. I love kids and I would love to teach them one of my favorite subjects.”

The survey conducted by Intelligent.com indicated a larger percentage of polled freshmen changed their major due to a greater focus on the societal impact of the pandemic.   “Students who say the pandemic influenced their decision are more interested in public administration and social services and area, ethnic, cultural, gender and group studies,” the report said.

Students polled at Baruch expressed more individual and personal responses to the impact of the pandemic. For many, it provided an opportunity to question and reevaluate their chosen major and subsequent career path.