How I Decided What to Major

April 11, 2018 By Emma
Your Major Choice (College Advice)   

When I wrote my college applications, I wanted to major in astrophysics and become an astronomer. Yet taking AP Physics my senior year made me realize that while I loved the astro- part of astrophysics, physics itself definitely wasn’t my thing.


At the beginning of my freshman year at Stanford, I had no idea what major I wanted or how to even choose classes. Overwhelmed and confused, I eventually settled on a somewhat scattered assortment of classes for the year. 


My class choices were more helpful in terms of figuring out what I didn’t want to do than what I did want to do. I considered everything from Geology (upon fondly remembering my childhood rock collection) to Religious Studies (as I neared a quarter-life existential crisis). I switched my probable major on a near-monthly basis, grew increasingly frantic as the declaration deadline neared, and considered taking time off until I knew what I wanted to study.


When I finally critically reflected on which classes I had taken and loved, I noticed that they were largely interdisciplinary science classes. I'd even already completed one-third of the Human Biology (HumBio) major, and most of the remaining required classes for the major looked pretty interesting too. Although the HumBio core classes were notoriously hard, I tried taking them and despite their difficulty, I knew that I had found the right major for me.


Even though I didn’t have a clear passion that I wanted to follow at the beginning of my freshman year, being a HumBio major was true to my lifelong dream of becoming a scientist. It gave me the flexibility to continue taking interdisciplinary science classes while giving me a solid STEM foundation that could be useful in a variety of career paths. 


There aren’t any easy hacks to figuring out the right major for you. I can only recommend choosing a major that’s full of classes that interest you and that aligns with post-graduation opportunities that you find exciting. Be open to changing your mind over time, and take your time to make the right decision if necessary. Good luck!



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