OPINION | Coordinate major provides happy medium

Abe Messing, Contributing Writer

Abe Messing is a computer science coordinate major.

Goldilocks loved her porridge so much because it was just right — not over or underwhelming. Had Goldilocks gone to Tulane University, she would have appreciated the coordinate major system for the same reason. It is the perfect amount of whelming. Coordinate majors are more demanding than a minor, but less so than a major. Meaning, they are ideal for anyone interested in learning about a subject, but who lacks the time or bandwidth to take on the course load required of a full-fledged major. They’re also reflective of Tulane’s emphasis on cross-curricular studies. The coordinate major system is the best vessel at Tulane for dialectical thinking. 

Picking up a coordinate major allows students to access a far richer education than would be expected. “What I’ve liked most about it was that I was able to take two sociology classes which I wouldn’t have taken had I not done the coordinate major,” Hannah Mayer, a sophomore studying political science in conjunction with a social policy and practice coordinate major, said. 

The coordinate majors offered at Tulane have a reciprocal effect on the disciplinary diversity present in their students’ schedules as well. “I think the good thing about coordinate majors is that a lot of them are very specific, so when you are required to explore another subject you have more options as to where you can take your career if you need them,” Mike Maloney, a sophomore studying communications with a digital media practices coordinate major, said. Coordinate majors are symbiotes and can only exist in a student’s curriculum when bonded with another host major, as Tulane does not allow anyone to study a coordinate major by itself. With concerns about future careers in mind, many coordinate majors are grateful they are going to graduate with a wider theoretical perspective due to the interdisciplinary nature of the system. 

Take the computer science coordinate major as another successful example. Many students have learned two very important lessons among others via the highly reasonable amount of classwork. Firstly, many genuinely find computer science interesting and valuable, and, secondly, there is a good chance those same people would burn out if it was all they studied. Having computer science classes make up a quarter of one’s schedule each semester, as opposed to one’s entire life, allows many students to avoid being submerged in the work that an ordinary STEM field would entail while still adequately preparing them for jobs in computer science after graduation. As a bonus, the computer science department is advised by a smaller team of faculty who are especially invested in the concerns and questions of their students.

Thanks to this system, chemical engineering majors and English majors alike find themselves brushing shoulders with one another in senior-level classes across Tulane’s campus and breakout rooms. Whether one is an artist wanting to make themselves a more attractive job applicant or a STEM student looking to deprogram themselves a little bit, Tulane students have the opportunity to take a deep dive into the outer bounds of their curiosity with relatively little change in their current lifestyle. The only downside, according to Mayer, is that “coordinate majors in general are so underrated. I think the school … needs to do a better job of promoting them.” 

You can find Tulane’s current coordinate program offerings here.

Art by Gabe Darley, Senior Staff Artist.

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