Several prestigious and rigorous academic departments reside on campus, and such programs come with strong reputations that often overshadow other majors and possibly create stereotypes.
The question is: Are other majors really inferior to these programs?
David Audretsch, an urban economic development professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said he does not think so, and the difficulty of majors is hard to evaluate because the demands of areas of study vary greatly.
“Dance is very different from the requirements of physics,” Audretsch said. “Each is legitimate and important, but very different.”
He compared students quick to judge majors aside from their own to NFL players who may scoff at how easy ballet is until they try to learn and find it is very difficult in a different way.
Sophomore SPEA student Emma Knapp said she has often heard comparisons of her area of study to those in the Kelley School of Business.
“People assume SPEA is really easy because a lot of people who drop out of Kelley are in SPEA,” Knapp said. “I would say that it’s probably easier compared to Kelley, but it’s not a walk in the park.”
While the Kelley School is ranked 10th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, SPEA was ranked second in the nation for “America’s Best Graduate Schools” for public affairs in the same magazine.
“The tradition of business schools is much older and more established,” Audretsch said. “SPEA is like the new kid on the block. It’s hard to find schools of public affairs outside of the U.S. It’s a relatively new phenomenon.”
Knapp said she considered applying to Kelley but chose not to after hearing about its level of difficulty.
As a SPEA student, Knapp said she is required to keep a 2.5 grade-point average and meet demands she finds attainable.
“I definitely have a lot to do, but it’s not enough to kill me,” Knapp said.
Audretsch said the intensity most students endure through the business school has to do with supply and demand.
“It’s entirely possible that Kelley is a lot more traumatic with more suffering for students, but if you look at fields where there are a big supply and limited opportunities, it tends to be a lot more competitive and cutthroat,” Audretsch said.
Freshman Ali Strang, an education major, said she has endured criticism about her area of study being called an “easy” major.
Unlike most students, Strang has only one book for all of her classes this semester. She said despite what most people would think from hearing this, education is still a difficult area of study.
“The homework load obviously isn’t as tough as a business major’s would be, but what I have to learn is still difficult,” Strang said. “It’s crazy to think that you are going to be the one that is teaching a kid how to grow up, what to learn and how to get to where I am now.”
Audretsch said students are used to school being a struggle and need to find the right fit for them to take away from this instilled belief that education should be a painful experience.
“Anything can be difficult if your heart’s not in it,” Audretsch said. “Students may say their major is ‘easy’ when they have a good match with what they’re interested in. When a student finds a good match, it’s like they have the wind at