-

The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

-

archive

Colleges discuss distribution of students

Nicole Toczauer | Friday, February 11, 2011

With the March 4 deadline to declare a specific college approaching, students wandered up and down aisles of tables at Majors Night in South Dining Hall on Jan. 27. Along the way, they paused to inquire about specific majors in the five colleges that make up the University.

Sam Gaglio, assistant dean of the Mendoza College of Business, said he was pleased by how students continued to explore academic opportunities.

“Most didn’t have a predetermined track. That was what really demonstrated to me the opportunities of a Notre Dame education,” Gaglio said.

Hugh Page, dean of the First Year of Studies, said enrollment numbers for each college are variables.

“The first year at Notre Dame is a time of discernment and contemplative exploration,” Page said. “Enrollment numbers speak to the intellectual curiosity of our students and the unfolding of their journeys as they respond to the call of wisdom’s voice.”

Page said he anticipates the College of Arts and Letters to enroll the most freshmen, followed closely by the Mendoza College of Business and the College of Science.

Page said 28 percent of freshmen plan to enter the College of Arts and Letters, 26 percent the Mendoza College of Business, 18 percent the College of Engineering, 25 percent the College of Science and two percent the School of Architecture.Currently, Arts and Letters consists of 2,500 undergraduates. Mendoza has 1,780; Science 1,189; Engineering 950; and Architecture 250.

Page said enrollment in engineering, science and business majors has increased, while the School of Architecture has seen consistent demand.

Page said there is a deepening student interest in educational synergies involving coursework between other colleges and the College of Arts and Letters.

“Contemporary issues such as sustainability, energy policy, global health, technology and values, ethics and business, peace studies and poverty studies require broad disciplinary exposure,” said Page. “That places students and faculty from all of these Colleges at what might be termed a ‘nexus of creativity,’ where the ideas and innovations that will shape the future are imagined.”

Gaglio said students deciding which college to enter should consider their passions and what they wish to gain from their experiences.

“To say one program will give you an advantage over another is an incorrect statement. What are you passionate about? Be excited, engaged and throw yourself into it,” he said. “Each is equally impressive and creates an advantage in your next endeavor.”

John McGreevy, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said a college should open significant intellectual and moral questions to students.

“College is the perfect time to study and debate these great issues,” he said. “The ability to write, the ability to analyze data, and the ability to speak is of greatest use for any student after leaving Notre Dame.”

For freshmen still deciding, Holly Martin, assistant dean of the First Year of Studies, said it is important to remember choosing a college or major is not the same as choosing a career.

“The Career Center is happy to work with first-year students about possible career choices,” she said. “But it isn’t necessary to know what you would like to do as a future career when choosing your college or major.”

Page said students change their minds often as coursework, conversations and intellectual exploration generate moments that lead to reevaluation.

“A decision at or near the end of the first year at Notre Dame need not be seen as irreversible,” he said.

It is crucial for students to follow their passions, Gaglio said.

“You don’t ‘have’ to do anything except believe in what you study to be a success. The point is, the university education is your grounding, and then you specialize after that,” he said. “Continue your education. We learn our entire lives.”