Saturday, March 31, 2012

Do You Love Your Major?

It’s something that I feel needs to be addressed. How many of you who are in college actually likes the major you’re studying? I’m always reading about how people hate the workload they have or they want to switch majors (I’m also at fault for this), but did anyone actually consider that this is the career path they wanted to pursue for the rest of their lives?

There are a lot of factors that determine what a person’s major is. Some people pursue a major because they believe they’ll get a lot of money and be hired a lot more easily. Some go undecided, and later choose a career path of interest. Some even choose one they don’t care about so then they can go party every weekend. They can do the work with minimal effort, get a degree, and worry about getting a job after they try to remember what happened in the four years they attended school.

To me, these just don’t feel like the right reasons to go to school and major in something. Yeah I mean money is great, but the state of the economy has influenced us so much that we can’t even pick a career we want because they say we won’t make a living after studying in that major. Seriously? That’s ridiculous. If you want to major in something, it should be one that you’re really good at, AND it’s something that is fun. That’s what makes the college experience worthwhile. It makes the money you or your parents are using to pay for your tuition all the more worthwhile.

If you’re in college just to party all the time and get by in school, you’re pretty much wasting the money your parents have worked hard to provide for you. Just don’t bother going to school at all. If you’re studying and are frustrated with the workload, and still love your major, then I commend you. There’s nothing better than having the satisfaction of getting something done in a field of work you absolutely love.

But if you’re just sitting around at night staring at a textbook wondering why you picked this major and how you’re not feeling any interest in it, you should definitely consider what you like and see if that’s the path to go for. You never know, it could be fun, and it would definitely add to the livelihood that is college.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reflection

*Ok, so I haven’t really had time to write a new entry lately with schoolwork and such, so I decided to put up an essay I recently wrote for my Sociology class. It’s really analytical not only to the topic, but to myself as well. Take a read if you like, and I hope you enjoy it.*

A subculture is a group that is very distinct in its qualities and norms that branch of a larger, primary culture. They are identified from the specific differences from the primary culture whether it’s in clothes, music, or beliefs. Subcultures can range from various topics such as religion, race, ethnicity, sports, or occupation. It helps define a person down to the smallest detail. It allows people to be judged for what groups they’re in and how committed they are to it. One of the subcultures I identify with is the track & field team at UMass Lowell. Though not an athlete anymore and treated more like staff, I can understand the sport from a competitive and managerial standpoint. It’s a sport I’ve grown to love and it helps define who I am today.

The identity of track & field is defined for the various events that are held in competition. It ranges from running, throwing, or jumping events. In competition, individuals compete in certain events in order to win the competition, get a mark that qualifies them for a more competitive meet, or to score points based on place in order to win against competing schools. The sport is broken down to their respective parts, allowing for different interpretation of what the sport really is. A runner, throw, and jumper can all say different things about what is track & field. There is no definitive answer, and that adds to the curiosity and fun of the sport.

To become a member of a track & field team, there is a long process to it. At the college level, coaches are allowed to speak to graduating high school athletes to get them to visit the school and meet the team. It allows the student to broaden their horizons during their college search, especially if they’re pursuing a college career in track & field. During the visitation process, or even before, lots of paperwork goes to the NCAA in order to abide by the rules on how coaches should recruit. It is a long process for the recruits, but if an athlete chooses to attend the school and join the team, the work is worthwhile. If one isn’t recruited to the team, athletes can choose to walk on and be given the opportunity to try out. If they are deemed unfit to compete or if the roster size is too large, they will be cut from the team.

To differentiate a track & field athlete from others, most will wear merchandise that says “track & field” on it along with the mascot or logo of the school. Most of these athletes will wear clothing specific to the sport itself, whether it may be running shoes, warm-up pants/jackets, hats, etc. to help further define that they are an athlete, and what sport they belong to. Track & field athletes tend to talk to others about the sport itself, whether it’s about them, the team, or professional athletes. It’s rare a conversation about the sport ever comes up when an athlete is talking to someone

The roles on the team are standard for any sport I would like to believe. The coaches are mentors and heads of the team. They are responsible to schedule practices, competition dates, filling out paperwork, and purchasing equipment to help better practice and competition for the athletes. They’re like the parents, having to look out for their children in order to help them grow and improve as athletes. The athletes come to practice, do the workout as they’re told, and when they’re competing, and compete to the highest level their body allows them to. They should show support for their teammate while in practice or competition, because support is one of the strongest qualities to a team like this.

The beliefs, values, and norms of the track & field team are modeled, if not, exactly like ones made from the history of the sport or from the school. From a coach’s perspective, they want to instill good will and behavior to all the athletes, because they believe they can succeed athletically and academically. All the athletes should come to practice on time unless they have a late class and are expected to complete the workout they’re given with full effort. It’s the only way an athlete can improve is that they pride in the workout they’re given. There’s no room for people who complain day after day and slack off. Like university beliefs and values, education is the most valuable thing to the team. Despite the athlete committed to the sport, their classes should be the most important thing during their college years. The coaches expect them to go to their classes, do their assignments on time, and maintain a good GPA. If they can’t do that, a low enough GPA can make an athlete academically ineligible to compete, wasting the coach’s time to instill good policy to their athletes. They need to take pride in their studies just as much as they do with their workouts.

As with university policy on drugs and alcohol use, the track & field team takes the rule right out of the handbook and adds more sanctions to the already punitive university ones. Drugs and alcohol are the worst things in any sport because of how they affect one’s performance. Coaches encourage their athletes not to go out and drink every weekend because how their performance can be altered by them. Athletes aren’t going to get caught every weekend drinking, but when they do the consequences fall harder on them. Once written up, they may have to pay fines to the school and take an alcohol education class. During that time they may have meetings with the athletic director to discuss their issue and be encouraged to stop the reckless behavior. Coaches will then determine how many competitions they’ll miss due to the violation of school and team policy. Continuation of these violations not only frustrates the coaches because of how they have to deal with each individual situation, but will eventually land the athlete a permanent dismissal from the team. It hurts the reputation of the team and coaches, and they don’t want to be looked at as the team who allows their athletes to drink and compete. The beliefs, values, and norms don’t seem to deviate too far from their dominant culture, because it seeks to use these specifically for their own sport.

Unfortunately being a student who works for the team at the school, I am able to see what the students are doing on their weekends and what rules are being broken despite being caught. I can see them or hear stories about how they were at a party and I can’t help but look in disgust as to how they’re ruining their own opportunity to not only represent themselves, but the school in competition. They don’t realize that when they perform badly, it’s attributed to their poor choices during the weekends, and the coaches aren’t to blame. It kind of ruins the love I have for the sport, but it can’t keep me away from it. I’ve been associated with the sport for almost 6 years. It’s hard to be torn away from something that’s defined me in almost every way.