Sophomores show shift to science
By Eric Richard
Fewer sophomores declared majors in the School of Engineering, School of Architecture and School of Humanities and Social Sciences than did last year, according to statistics released by the Registrar's Office last week.
The statistics also showed an increase of 13 percent, or 30 people, in the number of students in the School of Science, following a small decline among members of the Class of 1993.
The biology and chemistry departments, both from the School of Science, jumped significantly, with both of them reporting a rise of at least 40 percent over last year. The Department of Mathematics, however, fell by 16 percent, from 90 students last year to 76 this year. Enrollment in The Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences was cut in half, with three sophomores declaring this year.
Robert J. Birgeneau, dean of the School of Science, called the increase "terrific," but added, "we will need one or two more years to see if this is simply a statistical fluctuation." Birgeneau added that he hopes the recent colloquium on teaching will create "a greater focus on good teaching, which will draw students to our school."
The School of Engineering fell a small fraction compared with last year, but still claimed almost three times as many sophomores as any other school. Individual departments in the School of Engineering taking heavy losses were the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics with a 27 percent decrease, Course VI-1, which took a 23 percent loss, and the Department of Materials Science of Engineering, which declined by 11
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percent. Course X had 33 percent more people declaring, and Course VI-3 experienced a 25 percent increase.
The most popular departments among students last year were, in order, VI-1, II and VI-3. Their rankings remained unchanged this year. Because of the increase in the number of students declaring mechanical engineering and the decrease in the number of students in electrical engineering, the disparity between departments decreased.
Although the School of Architecture did have a decline in students declaring in favor of it, the drop only accounted for a eight percent loss as compared with last year.
For the second year in a row, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences continued a downward progression, going from 44 declared students two years ago to 28 this year.
Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Philip S. Khoury offered two explanations for the drop, which totaled 36 percent in two years. He said that "as of last year, interest in the economics field came to a plateau and losses could be expected in that area." Following his expectations, the number of sophomore economics majors have been 22, 32 and 17 over the last three years, respectively.
Khoury added, "the introduction of the HASS minor is having a definite impact impact on HASS majors. Many students who were planning on double majoring in a science and a HASS subject will now minor in a HASS without having to slug it out trying to get a double major."
Although the number of students majoring solely in HASS departments has declined, Khoury noted that both the average number of HASS courses students take throughout their four years, as well as the number of students majoring or minoring in HASS departments has increased.
The Sloan School of Management had 28 sophomores declaring this year, as compared with 27 last year, while the Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology gained one more major over last year with eight sophomores declaring.