A look at the less common areas of study at Asbury

By Meredith Anderson
Contributing Writer

The top five majors at Asbury, unsurprisingly, are media communication, elementary education P-5, equine studies, undecided and psychology. These majors alone make up over 40 percent of Asbury’s student body. However, there are many smaller majors that the remainder of students choose.

Some of these obscure or “under the radar” majors at the bottom of the enrollment list for the 2013-2014 academic school year include: philosophy, French education P-12, French, biology education 8-12, pre-art therapy and art education P-12. A little further up the list are Spanish education P-12, actuarial math, ancient languages, pre-nursing, math education and mathematics.

Some of these majors have small numbers of students because the major itself is new or still growing. For example, pre-art therapy is a new major. These numbers change annually, as students will graduate with their specific major and freshmen will enter college with an undecided major. 

Department Chair for Ancient and Modern Languages, Dr. Shelby Thacker, said of the low numbers in the French major, “French is still a growing major since the full time French professor retired in 2007. The French classes were taught solely by part-time faculty, which, because of the rotation schedules, made it difficult to teach upper-level courses.” He went on to say that a new professor, Dezirae Shukla, was hired as a full-time French professor in 2011. “The major and minor have actually grown since then,” said Thacker.

Noel Taylor, academic records clerk and statistician, spoke of the obvious advantages and disadvantages of having one of these “under the radar” majors. “Bigger majors have plenty of support from the department because there is more faculty, so more connections,” she said. “However, for these smaller majors, it is harder to offer the classes that are needed. If one senior needs a class to graduate, then it has to be a directed study. Some students like this one-on-one approach, while others don’t because they prefer the discussion of a regular classroom.”

Dr. Claire Peterson, professor of philosophy, teaches directed studies exactly like a regular class. “I’m teaching a logic class this semester that only has three students,” she said. “It’s a directed study, but we still meet twice a week for an hour and fifteen minutes.” 
However, independent studies are a bit different, and more common in these smaller majors. “For an independent study, a student picks a topic he or she finds interesting, the student and the professor work together to figure out a reading list and assignment expectations and they meet a few times over the semester to discuss the material and the student’s work,” Peterson said. 

Sophomore Kellen Ayres originally came to Asbury to pursue communications, but fell in love with a drastically different major. “I knew I wanted to study Hebrew to fulfill the language requirement because I studied it in high school enough to pique my interest,” Ayres said. “From there, I think God did something in my heart, because I started to love it with absolute disproportion.” She then decided to double major in ancient languages and communications, hoping to one day work for Wycliffe Bible Translators and translate the Bible.
Despite the fact that the ancient languages major only has five students, Ayres enjoys the supportive professors and small classes, and said the students are “emotionally knit together through the tribulation of unwanted grammar.”

Sometimes there is not enough interest in certain majors and they are discontinued. One such major was an emphasis within equine studies called equine journalism. Only one student actually graduated with this degree before the major was discontinued. 
However, outside of these very specific niches of study, many of the smaller majors include classes that are in the general education requirement. 

With a total of 51 majors and 30 minors offered, there is a huge variety of subjects that Asbury students can study. To help students navigate all of the well-known, as well as obscure, majors, there are many on-campus resources available.
Kate Vodicka, assistant director for the Center for Career and Calling, said, “Whether media communications or something off the beaten path, the goal of a major or job is to help people be more of who they are and who God calls them to be.”