The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Don’t stress over picking your major

If there’s one thing that intimidated me more than anything else about going to college, it was the prospect of choosing a major.

When I was in high school, I was expected to be well versed in everything. I learned how to calculate Taylor approximations in BC calculus, how to write out a third-declension accusative masculine adjective in Latin, how to deconstruct one of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets in English class, and how to calculate the molarity of a particular mixture in chemistry class. I was required to take all of these classes, and the only thing I got to choose about them was the pace of the course (“regulars” or AP, as the case usually turned out to be).

However, I never really minded the intense amount of subjects I had to study in high school. Every class was an opportunity to learn something more, and even the classes with which I struggled most, like calculus, became all the more rewarding when I finally managed to understand the concepts.

In high school, I felt like I was being rewarded for having a broad array of interests; when I first came to college, however, I felt like I was being punished for that exact same reason. Now, it was time to “specialize.” Because I’d already knocked out a majority of my general education requirements through AP credit, I started jumping into my major immediately. And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my English classes. I feel as though I learned more in my poetry class my first semester of college than I ever learned in four years of high school. I was glad to find that there are just as many opportunities to learn in college as there were in high school.

However, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. As a liberal arts major, I’m never going to be required to take a math class again. I think about all the logical skills I’ve developed through studying math over the years and how they’ll slowly decay as I neglect them for the rest of my college experience.

The great science fiction author Robert Heinlein once said that “specialization is for insects.” I always liked to live by that mantra when I was growing up, but I find it increasingly difficult to do in a college environment. Of course, it’s always possible to have multiple majors. In fact, of my entire group of friends I don’t think I can think of a single one who isn’t planning on having a second major or a minor in addition to their primary area of study. When I was a freshman I struggled a lot with deciding on what else I should major in besides English. I’d always loved political science, but I didn’t want to neglect history. And philosophy was always a subject I’d wanted to know more fully. And then there was Spanish, a language I’d studied for years that I didn’t want to abandon entirely as well.

Now, it’s certainly not impossible for me to have four or more majors; it would take a lot of credit hours and a fair bit of summer schooling, but it’s definitely manageable. However, I fear that the sheer amount I’d be attempting to learn would present its own unique set of problems. There’s always the possibility that by the time I graduate I’d be exposed to a wide array of subjects but proficient in none of them.

The unfortunate truth that I’ve been trying to accept is that none of us can know everything. Even if I dedicated the next 50 years of my life to nothing but Shakespeare’s “Tempest,” there would still likely be elements of the play that I wouldn’t understand. Just because a particular subject is part of your major doesn’t mean that you’re going to know every last detail about it when you graduate.

However, college provides us with a unique educational venue. As university students, we’re essentially given the opportunity to study whatever we want for the next four years. For some of us, the method of study is a bit more rigid and defined (especially for students in Meadows and Lyle), but the fact remains that we get to decide what classes we want to take and which opportunities we want to seize upon while we’re here.

A certain major does not necessarily lock you into a certain career path after college. I had a family physician once who actually studied English as an undergrad and only decided to go to medical school later on in life. While a college degree is certainly going to make you more employable, the degree on your wall is not going to matter nearly as much as the experiences you had while pursuing it. Challenge yourself. Study something you’re interested in. You’re not going to be able to learn everything, but you can still learn a good amount, and that’s as good of a goal as any to strive for.

Brandon Bub is a sophomore majoring in English and edits The Daily Campus opinion column. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]

 

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