For many students, choosing a major in college can be difficult. Some worry that they won’t be happy in the field, and some think they don’t have any way of knowing if they will like the career until after graduation. To solve these problems, many schools offer practicum classes, which are real applications of your major to the workplace. These classes can take many different forms, and many are worth exploring.
Some majors lend themselves more easily to practicums. For example, journalism students can take practicum courses in student media at many colleges and biology majors can take lab practicums where they help professors with research. Though practicums are helpful, they aren’t the solution for every student. Finding a practicum can be difficult for some majors, and if that is the case, getting an internship over the summer or for a semester may be an easier and more helpful option. If practicums are available for your major, however, taking the class is worth it.
If students find a practicum that fits their degree, they should next consider how their work will be evaluated. Practicums are graded in a variety of ways, from pass/fail to letter grading. For some practicums, completing a certain number of articles or assignments is enough to earn a passing grade. In other classes, the quality of the work determines the grade. Practicums are a way to test a career and therefore should be taken seriously, but understanding the time commitment of the class is important if you’re deciding on the best time to take a practicum. Considering credit hours is also important when deciding on a practicum. These classes usually count for a smaller amount of credits or hours than traditional classes, which students may enjoy if they are unsure of their major.
The time commitment and possibly more difficult coursework offered by a practicum may seem scary to some students. However, practicums are definitely worth the time and effort. Though taking a practicum may seem like an additional time commitment, the class could save a great deal of work and money in the long run. After all, taking a one-credit practicum about editing manuscripts is much less of a commitment than working in publishing for one’s entire career. Practicums offer many students a chance to try, fail, and try again, and although getting a bad grade may seem serious, it would be far worse to enter a career field without truly understanding what the jobs entail.
Practicums are an underused resource on many college campuses, and some classes have one or no students enrolled at the start of each new semester. Taking a practicum is a less stressful way of deciding if a major is the right fit for you. However, even if students are confident in their major choice, a practicum is worthwhile. Experience is a key part of your resume in many fields, and being able to present an academic paper that you wrote with a professor or a portfolio of your work could be incredibly helpful in your future job search.
For students struggling with choosing a major or those who are unsure of their major, practicums may be the answer. They may not be easy, but they offer real-world experience in your potential career field. As with many other aspects of life, you will never know if you like something until you have tried it. Practicum classes offer students the chance to try out their career with lower stakes. The worst that can happen while taking a practicum is the realization that you don’t like your major. Even if this is the case, it is so much better to realize this while you are still in school and you are able to change your major to something that fits your interests better.
Whether you’re worried about getting a job or just need a few more credits next semester, consider taking a practicum class. You may be surprised by what you learn!