A Student’s Experience: Molly Stone

Molly Stone is currently finishing her Junior year at Plymouth State University. She joined the Interdisciplinary Studies program after experiencing a setback in her previous major. She wrote the following essay for the Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies course this semester. It’s been edited to accompany this platform, but the original version can be found on her blog

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The end of my sophomore year. PC: Deb Stone

Going into my Junior year at Plymouth State University wasn’t exactly fun and games. I was terrified, bitter, and confused. At the end of my second year as a Musical Theatre Performance major and Dance minor, I failed the Sophomore level change “Jury,” a requirement at the end of every semester that performance majors (voice, musical theatre, music education) must complete before moving forward. Students are required to perform a number of songs for a board of professors, and they either pass or fail. If a student fails, she either stays back and repeats that level of her program again, or changes majors. When I failed, it felt like I was failing myself and my professors.

I didn’t know where to go–performance is what I love to do. After consulting voice teachers and professors, we all agreed that my strengths lie in dance. They didn’t want me to continue struggling with the Musical Theatre program if I wasn’t getting as much out of it and not enjoying it. I didn’t enjoy the singing performances. In fact, I hated them. I didn’t find the same joy from standing on stage and singing as I did from standing on stage and dancing. During these consultations, the Interdisciplinary Studies program was introduced to me as an option.

I wasn’t thrilled about pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies because I’ve heard rumors that the program is a joke and it isn’t even considered an actual major. I was afraid of how people would perceive me if I switched majors. I didn’t want people to think I was taking the easy way out. But I spoke to professors, contemplated the program, and finally decided to give it a shot. I’m glad that I did.

In my previous major, the requirements were so strict that there was no wiggle room to take extra classes that we may have found interesting and relevant. We had to stick to the curriculum if we wanted to finish our degrees in four years. With Interdisciplinary Studies, I’ve built a contract that combines advanced dance classes, some theatre courses, a couple writing classes, and business courses into a fun, information-packed major called Theatre Dance Performance and Production! This gives me the flexibility to pursue a professional career in performance, or to pursue a career in dance entrepreneurship. I can’t stop talking to other students about it. I talk about the IDS program as if it’s better than the invention of bread! Who wouldn’t want to personalize their career to fit their individual interests and goals? IDS is an under-appreciated option, and my hope is that, as the school shifts to an interdisciplinary environment, the students and professors will also change the way they think about the Interdisciplinary Studies program. 

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https://flic.kr/p/aWGRyx Ron Mader CC BY-SA 2.0

Interdisciplinarity matters to the world and Plymouth State University. Without collaboration, we will never grow to our full potential. You can’t expect to take one discipline and ONLY focus on that discipline for your four years here, or even the rest of your life. You don’t solve a problem with only one solution, there are always numerous ways of solving a problem, approaching a situation, or understanding a position or problem. It’s important to integrate different interests and fields together.

As we make our way into professional careers, employers will expect us to be able to think on our feet and solve problems on our own. You can’t possibly be prepared for every situation, but having a diverse education and expansive field will allow you to make quick decisions and solve problems on your own. 

As I progress into my senior year, I want to stay reminded of how positive this path is for me and my individual success. Worrying about what others think won’t make me happy and won’t make me successful. I’m learning you won’t EVER get everyone’s approval, the only approval that matters is your own. From here, I will work towards my goal of performing professionally. Thanks to the IDS major, I feel like it’s okay to get lost in finding your education. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do what I’m doing, but I’m learning what will make me flourish as a student and prospective businesswoman. I hope PSU figures out a way to integrate interdisciplinarity into the framework of the University. I am nervous it won’t be accepted widely by the students and professors, but I am hopeful they will see what good can come out of the change.

Changing my major was difficult and heartbreaking. It’s scary to feel like you don’t know where you’re going next, but PSU has the resources to help each student find their way. I’m thrilled that I was able to escape the cookie-cutter mold I was in. I didn’t think failing my Jury was a blessing before, but now I know it all happened for a reason. I’ve found a path that personally fits me. I’m proud to say I’m designing my future. I didn’t fail myself by failing my Jury. I made leaps by choosing to go in a different direction.

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