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We need to create space for overlooked majors

Most universities and colleges are known for a particular program or department, advertising that students in these programs thrive and are provided superior resources, professors and courses in order to do so. This also usually indicates that there is a significant monetary investment in these programs to make them run as well as they do. 

The University of Maine’s top majors include business, engineering and computer science. UMaine was ranked in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Undergraduate Business Programs (#166), Best Undergraduate Computer Science Programs (#154) and Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (#147), according to UMaine News.  

UMaine has nearly 100 majors on their campus, but only a select few receive the proper funding and resources that allow those students to thrive. 

The remaining programs and their students seem to be shuffled into the mix, hidden behind the shadow of highly ranked majors that give universities a good look because they were given the right resources to do so. 

If students are given the right resources, with professors that are willing to teach and assist and courses that challenge them, there is no reason why they shouldn’t succeed. But if they feel forgotten and unsupported, they may be more likely to change their major or even drop out. 

Lisa Howard, a fourth-year social work and psychology student, has felt frustrated by the social work department at UMaine for most of her college career. 

“Social work seems to be forgotten by the school and it makes it really hard to pay my tuition and want to come here when I’m shoved in a trailer that is so cold in the winter I have to keep my winter coat on,” Howard said.

Howard went on to talk about how the social work department wasn’t indicated on UMaine’s map.

“I needed to find the social work building and turned to our campus map all [first-years] were handed when we first arrived on campus. [I] stared at the map for a good few minutes before [I] realized that it was not on the map,” Howard said. “Within social work we have two trailers and it’s called the social work building. They are not shown off on campus, which honestly if we are trying to get more students to join we should not want to show that off. We have two classrooms total for all of our social work classes, and I have only been able to be in them a couple times my whole career.” 

It’s hard to hear that students do not feel supported or have a proper building to take their courses in. If students do not feel financially supported by their own departments and universities, then many students like Howard will wonder why they are at UMaine.

“I think if UMaine just took a moment to look at the smaller majors on their campus they would be able to see that we do not get the same experience at UMaine as the bigger majors do,” Howard said. 

Paige McHatten, a second-year journalism and English student explained her experience so far at UMaine. 

“Overall, I think the university does support the college of liberal arts and sciences but not as much as they support other programs, like engineering,” McHatten said. 

Everyone deserves the opportunity to learn and succeed, especially if students are paying their universities to help them do so. Universities and colleges across the country need to ensure they provide everything a student needs to thrive in their major, regardless of its reputation or prestige. 


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