How do Denison Students View the Majors of Other Students?

By Will Duquette

Denison serves students from all walks of life and from all around the world. Each student brings a unique perspective and a desire to deepen their understanding of their favorite subjects. But what do Denison students think of their fellow Denisonian’s major subject choice? We hope to see what students think of other students outside their major regarding post-Denison prospects and their academic challenges at Denison.

What are students studying, and how strong is their commitment?

It may be surprising to some that the plurality (~34%) of Denison students surveyed are studying something in the sciences. This is followed closely by the social sciences (~30%), with the remaining four categories of major being far behind. The smallest group was undecided students (~4%), which makes sense because the only students who could feasibly be undecided are Freshmen and Sophomores.

We know what students are studying, but how long did it take them to arrive at this subject? On average, those who self-identified as humanities majors changed their major the most before arriving at their current subject. A close second is interdisciplinary majors, but the difference between them and humanities majors is negligible. Interestingly, STEM majors changed their majors the least. This might suggest that students who come to Denison for STEM majors are more set on sticking with that particular major than those in different areas of study.

How do the different areas of study view each other?

Everyone knows the stereotype that STEM majors do more work than other students. The survey clearly shows that STEM students believe that to be the case. STEM students think that other areas of study have less homework, but more than that, they believe the other areas of study to be easier. All of the other areas of study basically shrug – falling strongly in the “Neither Agree nor Disagree” category. Interestingly, however, STEM students do not seem to believe their hard work separates them from their fellow Denisonians, a finding largely consistent over time. This would suggest that STEM majors believe they spend more time grueling just to get no reward in the end, though a few years ago, science majors were way more likely to believe they would make more money than other majors.

Is there any truth the STEM classes are harder?

To answer this question, we are looking at whether the more STEM classes you take, the more homework you have. And looking at the top left graph, it appears that the more STEM classes you take, the more homework you have. But, notice that this is also the case for Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies. The rate of increase is indeed higher for STEM classes than for Social Science classes (the two steepest rates of increase), but the difference in the slope seems negligible. Notably, your average study time decreases as you take more Art classes. It would be interesting to know what Arts students consider study time because Theater has significant rehearsal time that some Art students may not consider homework. So although their “homework” time may be lower, the overall commitment time to the subject matter may be the same if not higher.

Denison students have a wide range of beliefs about other majors. It is clear that most students do not change their majors very often. Even the major with the highest number of reported major changes (the humanities) only saw roughly 1.2 major changes on average. Although the plurality are STEM majors, the Denison student body has a wide range of academic interests. STEM majors appear to be the most confident that their majors are harder and they do more work, but they seem to not believe that their hard work will separate them from the rest of the student body when it comes to the post-grad world. Denison has an academically diverse student body that, for the most part, views each other’s areas of study with the respect they deserve.

Will Duquette cannot wait to graduate and hopes it will not be 100 degrees on graduation day, because that would make his last moments as a student unbearable.

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