Choosing a major is one of the most important steps of college but also a daunting process. Here are some tips that professors, deans, and friends have told me that have helped me through the process.
What I have learned:
Your first year of college is a time to explore different subjects. Although college-wide requirements can be seem stressful to complete, they also introduce new subjects. You may end up loving the subjects that you had begrudgingly taken as a requirement. During my first year at Bryn Mawr, I chose a fascinating history course about the Xiongnu nomads of Northern China, something that high school did not offer. Since then, I have continued to take history courses, while pursuing my French degree.
Taking advantage of the wide range of courses Bryn Mawr offers may help you find your major. Or double major! Or a minor! Do not try to confine yourself to a certain subject freshmen year. Take the time that you have to explore departments.
Attend Major Information Sessions! Each department holds major Info Sessions once a semester. You can learn of the times and places by the colorful posters that deck the hallway billboards around late October and November. Not only will you learn more about the department and their expectations, you will also be able to ask questions to professors and other students who have majored in the subject. I have made close friends through the French Department Info Sessions, just by conversing in French about courses over cheese, baguettes, and macarons!
Are you interested in studying abroad? You can often complete major requirements abroad whether studying math in Budapest or French in Toulouse!
Finally, it may just be a class or a teacher that is the deciding factor. Perhaps you loved that professor’s passion for their subject, or the way they always approached a book with such much enthusiasm despite having read and taught that book dozens of times. How they encouraged you to look at a text from different perspectives — do the verb tenses the author uses affect the tone of the piece? Maybe it was that professor who inspired you in class by introducing you to aspects of culture through film, paintings, photographs, texts, or who took you to the library to view ancient illuminated manuscripts. Or maybe it was the way they always asked a question that had no clear answer, but revealed the multiple complexities of the reading. It made you think. Does a certain course, a certain department come alive for you? Perhaps you have found your major!
Check out some tips from the other Banter Bloggers:
Lizzie Siegle: I chose to study computer science because I see parallels between writing a program with code and writing a story with words. I like how it can be creative, innovative, and fun, and it opens doors: I’ve had so many amazing travel, work, and overall-fun opportunities to travel and learn with a variety of other students from different colleges. Also, it’s interesting, but I noticed that people (family, friends, people I met) seemed to respect me more when I said I was taking a programming class and considering studying CS.
Maria Britt: I haven’t declared my major yet, but I hope to major in Sociology! Originally, I had planned on Psychology because of my dream of becoming a counselor, but I realized pretty early on that my love of counseling was rooted more in the social elements of it than in the scientific pieces that are present in Psychology. Thinking about social locations, identities, and how we interact with one another is something that felt more organic and comes naturally to me, and because Sociology encompasses several jobs I’d love to explore (community & non-profit work in addition to counseling), it felt like the best fit for me.
Paola Salas: I pursued an independent major in public health. I considered many majors (anthropology, psychology, biology) but ultimately felt that none of them were right for me; however, public health was the perfect mix of all of the subjects that I liked and the independent major allows me to focus on exactly what I’m passionate about.