From a consumer standpoint, the recent drop in oil prices has been a blessing. The drop has also been a blessing for Petroleum Engineering students at TU.
Enrollment in the Petroleum Engineering program dropped by 94 percent after the recent plunge in oil prices. It seems alarming at first glance, but this shift represents a revelation for many of the program’s students.
While a few of the former PE students simply moved to other branches of engineering, a vast majority saw this as an opportunity to escape from the ENS college once and for all. “I’ve never cared about oil”, confessed new Art History major Marcus Kaiser. He, like many other students formerly in the program, switched majors last semester.
The most popular choices for these refugees include Vocal Performance, Graphic Design and Women’s and Gender Studies.
In addition, many incoming freshmen, originally declaring a PE major while enrolling last Spring, had a last-minute change of heart.
“I was kind of scared after I saw the drop”, freshman William Frantz reports, “but I smiled, looked at my dad, and said ‘Now there’s no reason for me not to major in English.’”
While students are thrilled by their new wealth of opportunities, this shift left the PE program’s professors confused and concerned.
Fluid Properties professor Alan Avara expressed worry that, “these kids are going to end up being hippies living in street tents with their ukuleles.”
Professor Avara may have a point. Tulsa’s Guitar Center saw a 27 percent increase in ukulele sales after the oil drop. The newfound hippies, however, are not concerned. They tell a different story: one of freedom and of choice they never expected to have.
“I’m going to be poor anyway,” noted Eric Marshall, a former PE student now doubling in Philosophy and History. “I might as well do something with less math.”
While the stories of those able to escape are fascinating, a select few brave souls decided to stay in the program.
Scott Hamm, the only surviving PE senior, seems to have found a strange nirvana in knowing that he is the last of his kind. “I’ve got it all figured out,” Hamm argues. “Yeah, there are only like four jobs left, but when I graduate, I’ll be the only option! I’m a shoo-in!”
The only freshman PE major, Caleb Hunt, shares a similar sentiment. “There’s a lot of oil right now”, Hunt points out, “but all of that is eventually going to run out, too.” Hunt believes that, by the time he graduates, “the industry will be back to normal and I’ll be the only person able to get that money.”
Whether they’ve decided to follow their dreams or play a long game with the oil industry, the future looks bright for students inside and outside the program.