While it may seem like many people are aware of what they want to do for the rest of their lives, choosing a major can be a stressful process. While Northwestern has many majors to choose from, they may not reflect students’ wants and needs. To accommodate this, NW has the option for students to create their own major. Student Initiated Majors, or SIMs, are created by combining several classes from different programs into one major. However, creating a SIM can be a tedious process, as the created major needs approval from your academic advisor and the Academic Affairs Committee.
According to the directory, there are currently four individuals who have SIMs: seniors Carlee Harmelink, Clara Pahl and Anna Bram and junior Rose Hoogers.
Carlee Harmelink’s created major is Teaching Spanish and TESL with student relationship emphasis. “I created this major to be able to step into a part-time teaching position while doing my student teaching (and) finishing up classes at NW,” Harmelink said. “I am hoping to continue to teach Spanish (and) TESL while focusing on building strong relationships and rapport with each one of my students.”
Clara Pahl has a created major in English, to go alongside another major, psychology. Pahl created an English SIM because she does not desire to teach high school students. “I just put as many writing and literature and humanities courses into it,” Pahl said.
Rose Hoogers created a SIM in writing and publication. “I love literature and writing. I do not love teaching,” Hoogers said. “My major was humanities for a while (another major that is not really talked about), but because I wanted to learn different writing styles, crafting my own major made the most sense.”
Hoogers wishes to work in the publishing industry, and to create her major, she enrolled in classes that involved literature and writing, which includes English and communications courses. She was also able to add courses that would allow her to study abroad. “Something a bit different I did with my major was I essentially made studying abroad a requirement,” Hoogers said. “I added a section where I put courses taught at Florence University of the Arts as options to fulfill the publishing aspect of my major.”
The process to create a SIM requires a lot of paperwork and communication. “There is a lot of communication that has to happen between departments and with your advisor!” Harmelink said. “It takes a lot of time, perseverance and patience, but it is all worth it in the end!”
Pahl emphasized that creating a major takes a lot of brainstorming but would encourage others to create their own major if they are considering it. Harmelink would tell those curious about creating their own major to “go for it! It never hurts to try – NW is amazing at accommodating and making sure that you get the education and the experiences off campus that you desire and/or need for a successful future.”
Hoogers highlighted the need to show just cause for the creation of a SIM. “A huge part of creating a major is justification for its creation or explaining why you would not be able to reach your goal in a major already offered at the college as well as comparing it to programs at other institutions,” Hoogers said. “From there it needs to be approved by your collaborating faculty member, the dean of the department you’ll mainly be studying in and the academic affairs committee chair.”
So, if you are feeling out of place in your major, or if you do not think that any of NW’s listed majors apply to what you want to do, check out creating your own major that will fit your needs