This week, ESC had its first meeting of the spring semester. They talked about their concerns regarding how students choose majors and upcoming events such as the SEAS Gala. For the first time in 2020, ESC Bureau Chief Lori Luo reports.
Unequal Major Distribution
In preparation for a meeting with Dean Morrison and Dean Brovman this Friday, ESC talked about how to encourage students to explore various majors as they choose their own and what assistance the school can provide on this issue. The main issue is that there is a skew with most students choosing operations research (OR) and computer science (CS) as their major.
The conversation largely centered around Art of Engineering (AOE), the first year engineering seminar that in part aims to introduce students to the various departments and majors in SEAS. However, AOE is a class that has its own problems. For one, most freshman don’t attend all of the AOE classes, as many are talks given by industry professionals. Many members of ESC suggested solutions that aimed to address and fix some of the prevailing issues about AOE.
Some offered solutions to make the class more engaging. Class of 2023 Vice President Angel Mancera suggested replacing the seminar talks each week with short projects within the 2 hour class led by faculty that showcased each department. Class of 2023 Class Representative Ariana Novo noted that while she liked the departmental projects that are already in place, the seminar talks were too specific and didn’t really show what work each department did. Instead, she suggested that maybe faculty can lead an open house each week into the different departments. Another issue with AOE is the low attendance. While there are mandatory check-ins, it is easy for students to simply check in from somewhere else, thus defeating the purpose. One member suggested scanning a QR code in class to combat this problem.
ESC also focused on why people tend to gravitate towards OR and CS as their majors. Specifically, President Alina Ying brought up a statistic showing that while 60% of SEAS sticks with the three majors they initially listed on their application, the remaining 40% that did not gravitated towards OR and CS. VP Finance Sophia Sagandyk discussed how many students chose to attend Columbia for New York City, and most of the opportunities in NYC gravitate towards finance and technology, which OR and CS cover.
University Senator Joe Hier expanded on this point, saying that the career path for OR and CS are clearer than those for the other departments. Similarly, Academic Affairs Representative James Wang mentioned that OR and CS have opportunities and more resources. One solution would to help CCE improve in helping students find internships for the other departments. Departments. Moreover, CCE should also cater more events and recruiting towards students in those departments.
However, the specific departments and their requirements also play a role. First Gen and Low Income Representative Diana Carranza brought up how many FGLI students arrive at Columbia intending to major in something such as Mechanical Engineering or Chemical Engineering but find that those majors have too many requirements. OR and CS have less requirements relative to the other departments, and it is advantageous for FGLI students, who many not have as many credits coming into Columbia as other students, to choose those majors.
An Arduino game, similar to one students might build in AOE, via Flickr