Thursday, November 14, 2013

Liz's Tip of the Week: How I Found my Major

          This May, I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design, and a minor in Art History. At the start of my freshmen year, I was studying none of these things. A lot changes in your college career, particularly the things that you study, and I wanted to share my story of how I finally found my major.

          Freshmen year, I came in declared as a Comparative Literature major, and shortly after picked up a double major in Theater. At first, I was incredibly excited about both of these majors, but after a few classes, I realized neither was a good fit for me. I loved Theater, but more as a hobby than something I wanted to study, and Comparative Literature was fascinating, but not what I was looking for in a major. I wanted to study something more relevant to the things I cared about; like sustainability, and equity issues, and I wanted more hands-on experience. After these realizations, I went into a small panic. Everything I thought I wanted to study was not right for me, what was I supposed to do next? I took it upon myself to do some exploring, digging through websites, booklets, and all of the on campus resources to learn more about what UMass had to offer.

        After some research, I discovered the Environmental Design major, a major I had never even heard of, let alone thought about declaring. I set up a time to talk to their undergraduate advisor to learn more about the major, and its four different concentrations. After our meeting I
was feeling inspired and excited to declare. Environmental Design has everything I could want in a major, a focus on sustainability, hands-on design work, and exposure to a new lot of careers I had never even heard of. Though it was completely different from what I had originally thought I wanted to study, Environmental Design ended up being the perfect fit for me. From that day forward, I've grown more and more excited about my major.
        I know I'm not alone in this feeling of uncertainty when it comes to declaring a major. The majority of students will either change what their studying, or add on something like a second major or a minor during their college career. In addition to changing my major, I also have found a minor that I love. After taking an Art History class as a Gen Ed requirement, I discovered how interested I was in the subject, so I decided to take more classes, quickly fulfilling the minor. 
       With UMass' 90 majors, plus the BDIC (Bachelors Degree in Individualized Concentration) option that lets you design your own major, there is a program of study for everyone. In addition to all of those majors, UMass offers more than 60 minors, and almost 40 certificates. 
      My biggest piece of advice to students is that it's ok to change your mind. The things that we wanted to study when we filled out our applications to UMass in senior year of high school might be very different from the things we want to study when we get on campus, and that's ok. Give yourself an opportunity to explore a little, but do so in a timely fashion. Be proactive when it comes to figuring out what you truly want to study, it will pay off later.

Talk to Liz and other Peer Advisors at the Academic Advising Link, Sun-Thurs, 4-8pm!

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