By Lydia Farmer – [email protected]
There are over 70 areas of study offered at CSB/SJU but some students find that their interests and aspirations don’t perfectly fit within those bounds.
There are currently 35 students—20 at CSB, 15 at SJU—studying within individualized majors. This means students create a four-year plan for themselves choosing from an array of courses offered at CSB/SJU in order to achieve their intended area of study.
Junior Kevin Conway is an individualized film major. As a first year, Conway was a computer science major but film was a long time passion of his.
“When I came in I was thinking I would be a computer science major and do film classes during the summer in Chicago because I’m from the area and they have great film schools there,” Conway said.
After meeting another student who was an individualized film major, Conway decided to switch and went through the process of creating a four-year plan and getting it approved by the film department.
There have been multiple students that have created an individualized film major so the process is relatively easy.
Since switching, Conway has taken film classes as well as courses in art, English, music, business and communication.
Although he thinks the hardest part of having an individualized major is the lack of many specific film classes, the variety of classes he is able to take is one of his favorite things about his major.
“If you want a really well rounded major [an individualized major] might be a good way to go,” Conway said.
After graduation Conway hopes to continue to run the film production company he started with some of his friends in Chicago filming commercials, short films and independent feature films.
Another student that has created his own major is junior Alex Seefeldt. He first came to CSB/SJU as a cognitive science major then switched to computer science and planned to continue following his passion for music on the side.
“By the end of sophomore year, it became clear that I was putting more time and effort into my composing than my schoolwork,” Seefeldt said via email “At that point, I realized the computer science major was more serving as a backup plan for my potential music career, and I decided it would be better to get a formal education in music rather than spending two more years on a backup plan.”
Seefeldt switched to an individualized composition major with dreams of one day becoming a composer of sacred choral music. On campus he arranges music for St. John’s acapella group, Johnnie Blend, in addition to taking an assortment of music classes.
“I love getting the chance not only to study music composition, but also pick up important skills with the choral and liturgical concentrations in my major,” Seefeldt said.
Seefeldt is especially appreciative of the help he received from his advisor and chair of the music department at the time, Dr. Brian Campbell.
Though the process has become relatively simple, students are required to work with a lot of faculty in order to get their major approved.
“I was really pleased with how helpful and accommodating the music department was for me,” Seefeldt said.
With the collaboration of faculty in multiple departments, students are given the freedom to obtain a well-rounded liberal arts education with a major tailored specifically to them and the skills they wish to obtain during college.
Both Conway and Seefeldt loved the flexibility they were given to create individualized majors. This allowed them to continue attending St. John’s while pursuing things they are truly passionate about and becoming equipped with the skills they will need to excel in the fields of film and music post-graduation.