You Can Customize Your Major—Say What?
Emma St. Aubin
estau255@uwsp.edu

If we could pick and choose classes to create a personalized major to fit multiple interests, why wouldn’t we take advantage of the opportunity?

Instead, we drift to popular majors on campus like biology, business administration, communication, elementary education and natural resources. A few students, however, stray from those popular courses of study to enroll as an Individually Planned Major and develop a personal major to fit their interests.

Megan Weinaug, a University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point alumni, gradated with an Individually Planned Major in 2011. Weinaug wanted to be a child-life specialist and was unable to find an accommodating major at UWSP.

“I felt that there wasn’t a major that offered exactly what I was looking for,” Weinaug said. “There are some colleges that offer a major in child life, but I was also a dance major and didn’t want to transfer because of the amazing dance program in Point.”

Although UWSP offers a degree in family life education, Weinaug wanted to take other classes that weren’t offered as part of the major.

“I was able to pick and chose the classes that would best benefit my career goals,” Weinaug said. “I was able to take a bunch of psychology classes as well as some human development classes and even medical terminology.”

The Individually Planned Major is for students who cannot meet their desired educational objectives through an existing academic program. It gives students the opportunity to coherently combine existing course offerings to create a unique major.

In order to declare an Individually Planned Major, the student must propose the program prior to completing the 75 credits, including transfer credits, to be sure the necessary courses are available and can be integrated into the desired major.

The proposal must include a title, a statement of the objectives of the program and a list of specific courses. It must be approved by the Individually Planned Major coordinator, Mark Balhorn, as well as the Individually Planned Major committee, composed of specific advisers appropriate to the topic.

“You need a clear idea in your head and a rationale to do it,” Balhorn said. “The major is for students who are looking for a major we don’t offer and can’t be accommodated for in any of our departments.”

Although there are no current students on campus enrolled as an Individually Planned Major, students remain curious.

“About a half a dozen students come to me each year and want to do an Individually Planned Major,” Balhorn said.

However, few of those students go through with an Individually Planned Major after discovering the possibilities of covering their interests with an already available major.

Weinaug is grateful that she followed through with the Individually Planned major. She is currently working as a nanny but plans on becoming a child-life specialist in the near future and hopes that her Individually Planned Major will give her a competitive edge in the work world.

“My major was crafted by me and therefore was something that no one else on campus was pursuing,” Weinaug said. “It’s a great feeling— knowing that I was creating my own path in a way.”