Degree Uncertainty Overloads Student

By Larissa Johnson

The average college student in the United States changes majors about three times, but University of South Carolina student Alexis Taylor is ahead of the curve.

“I started out public relations, and then I changed to political science, and then I changed to physical education, and then I changed to early childhood education, and then I changed back to public relations,” Taylor said, finishing with a laugh as she tallied up the four changes on her right hand.

Now starting her senior year, Taylor had to overload to 21 credits the past two semesters — and will do the same for her final semester — just to be able to graduate on time. A typical course load is just 15 to 18 credits.

“It kind of sucks, but it’ll be worth it,” she said.

With her demanding class load, it’s been difficult for Taylor to make time for involvement on campus. She has found time, though, to pick up a job at the university working for the College of Arts and Sciences. They’re willing to work with her busy schedule, but it’s not at all surprising that Taylor has a difficult time coming up with what she does in her free time. She doesn’t have any.

But being busy isn’t something new for Taylor. She grew up with a single mother working full time and three siblings, including a sister who’s nine years younger than her.

“My mom worked all the time, so it was always one of us watching her, usually just me or my older sister,” Taylor said.

Taking care of a younger sibling had a big impact on Taylor’s sister, who graduated from USC with a degree in early childhood education and just started teaching kindergarten. The school is only a 10-minute drive from the family house, where both she and Taylor still live.

“She loves kids,” Taylor said. “She’s known for forever that that’s what she wants to do.”

Taylor doesn’t share the same certainty in her own career path. While she ended back up in the same academic program she started in and enjoys the courses, she doesn’t have a specific job picked out after graduation.

“I have no idea what I want to do,” Taylor said. “I really don’t know.”

This uncertainty doesn’t seem to concern her as she lists out possibilities: travel, graduate school, getting a job in Los Angeles. The last option appeals to her because her best friend just moved to the city. She said she won’t mind, though, if she ends up staying in Columbia close to her family.

But wherever she finds herself after crossing the stage in May, Taylor is likely to maintain her laid-back approach to life and stick with what she knows: lots of hard work. She’s not really one for experimentation.

“I did dye my hair pink in high school,” she said. “It started turning orange after two weeks. After that, I was like, ‘Never again.’”

Johnson is a multimedia journalism senior

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