Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sensei Says...

All this talk about what to do and so little direction in how to do it!

Although it may seem rather easy to actually declare yourself a minor, a few clicks through campus connect expedited by a few risky auto-completes... Best you make sure!! I hope you remember the old journalism aphorism, "if your mother says she loves you... check it out!"

When you're trying to declare a major in LAS from outside the college, i.e.,- you might have been admitted as an undecided freshman or transfer and have since settled snugly into "The College Of" something else, it's kind of like sending a check in the mail when you only use debit when relying on Campus Connect to magically register your minor to your upcoming degree. The upgrades this year might offer a sense of false security with the pre-registration course cart and grid-style menus, but nothing beats personal contact and confirmation.

You would not like to find out a few weeks shy of your last senior quarter that the status of your upcoming diploma forgets that you took my advice and started a personal addiction with minors. ( There are actually a few triple-threats out there, believe me...)

Here's a form
Do not fax it. Write it out (with ink) and walk it into the department office. Ask to speak with the coordinator of your minor, and if he/she is not available, slip the form into his/her box. Then ask for the coordinator's e-mail address, and send him/her a short message asking if he received your declaration form, including your ID# and any classes you might have already taken.

Here's another helpful hint. Flatter this person a little, because this is an interest you share, and he/she is an expert! He/she has CONNECTIONS.

Chances are, if the coordinator directs "only" a minor, he/she has to contend with bigger dogs at the meat market. Funding for these programs can be woefully tiny, and it might not at all have increased the coordinator's pay.

Why do this at all, you are asking? College is two very different experiences for those who talk to professors and those who do not. Within a very short relationship with a professor, you might have gone from no idea what you want to do in the future to too many to know where to begin. When you are ready to take the step, they are ready to help you understand where those steps might lead.

And for the time being, (and this is your reward for reading this far) - some departments do have budgets for their minors, some funded out of multiple departments (especially those in the Liberal Arts and Sciences college which offer many cross-listed classes). These minors are programs with people like us showing up with forms, needing posters designed, and seeking ideas for expansion. This is where professor relationships pay you back. In dollas. You might receive an e-mail alerting you to a position that was just created to help manage the very minor you declared.

The benefit of working at school? You don't pay FICA tax. Seriously. Declare a minor.

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