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Debunked: 3 Myths about Individualized POEs

Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

If you know anything about Juniata, you know that we don’t have majors the way other colleges might. Sure, you can come in with a Designated Program of Emphasis (POE) like English or Business and have similar requirements to majors at other schools. But you could also write an Individualized POE of “Writing and Society” or “Marketing Strategies.”

There are many myths about the process of individualizing your POE and about graduating with an individualized POE. I’m going to debunk three of them and explain how I individualized my own POE.

Myth 1: “You can’t individualize if you already have a Designated POE.”

You absolutely can. I did it and I know so many others who start their undergraduate education in one department and end up individualizing or completely changing their POE.

Myth 2: “It’s way harder to graduate with an individualized POE.”

It’s not! I find that my course-and-workload is similar to that of my Designated POE friends. My advisers have worked with me to make sure I’m not doing the work of two full POEs when I’ll only be graduating with one. That’s the beauty of an Individualized POE.

Myth 3: “You’ll never get a job with an Individualized POE.”

You WILL get a job with an Individualized POE. Regardless of what you name your POE, you will graduate from Juniata with a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. If anything, having individualized, or essentially created your own POE will give you an edge in job interviews and provide you with more specified skills in potential future jobs.

My POE Story

The process of individualizing my own POE was extremely easy. I started my time at Juniata with a Designated POE in History. After taking Intro to Human Communication during the fall of my sophomore year, I fell in love with the subject and the department. My professor for that class, Dr. Lynn Cockett, took me on as an advisee during the spring semester of my sophomore year, during which I was also taking Intro to Sociology.

Communication Theory drew me in and pushed me to think critically about how we, as humans, create our own identities and how we interact with each other and with the world. Sociology made me question why the world is messed up in certain ways and what we can do to fix it. I was determined to find a way to connect these ideas in my studies. With Dr. Cockett’s endless expertise and help, I named my POE “Advocacy Communication.” This POE has allowed me to explore inequalities in society, how they’re communicated, and question how to advocate for those affected by inequalities.

So…what are my future plans with this Individualized POE? After I graduate in May of 2021, I’m planning to take a year or two off, wait for COVID to settle down, and then I’m off to law school. Studying for the LSAT during my senior year has not been easy so far, but I know it will pay off when I’m studying Civil Rights/Humanitarian Law using the foundations I built during my time at Juniata with an Individualized POE of Advocacy Communication.