A Major Decision (Part 2)

Published Monday, February 28, 2011 by Tarang

Last time, I gave you some insight into the world of Greek and how the students in that show chose their major. One thing you may have noticed from the show and of course real life is that experience is the best way to decide a major. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a biotech internship and I was always interested in biology since 7th grade, so I was clear that I wanted to do something related to biology. However, as you can tell, the interest in a major starts with an interest in a certain subject in school. In high school, I talked to my AP Biology and AP Chemistry teachers to gain deeper insight into the subjects such as what careers are there and what I would learn in college related to these fields. These were not extended counseling sessions but simple 5 minute conversations with my teachers. Also, contrary to what it looks like, these were also unplanned moments. I had not started planning my life so early on; I just sought information in whatever caught my attention at the time. I always knew I loved science, so it was easier for me to narrow my focus.

Cappie (left) and Rusty (right) from Greek trying to impress a researcher.

The other thing that always helps is looking at the list of majors for every school you are applying to/interested in and seeing if there is one that really catches your eye. For example, at UC Berkeley there were many biology majors. In fact, the university has a College of Natural Resources which features only life science majors. However, I found that the Molecular and Cell Biology major (in the College of Letters and Science) at Cal had the classes I really wanted to take (plus it satisfied all the pre-med requirements leaving my door into healthcare open). I chose this as my tentative major. As you will discover later, many universities, such as Cal, register all the incoming freshman as Undeclared. This leaves time for students to take pre-requisite courses in the major they plan to pursue or take general courses to figure out what they want to do. They can also take courses that are required by the university to graduate (such as breadth requirements) in this period of time because they have not started their major’s coursework yet. ┬áNo matter what plan of action you choose, you get two years to decide at most UCs. Also, even if you have to choose a major right as an incoming freshman, changing majors is usually not difficult unless it is an impacted major. An impacted major is one that has a limited number of spots. At UC Berkeley, impacted majors included ones in the College of Engineering and a major in Public Health. These are more competitive and require more paperwork to transfer into later.

There are lots of rules regarding declaring a major or changing majors at each university. There are also ways to declare double majors or minors. It is important to research all your options for your college. As a high school student, you don’t have to worry about most of these issues. Your main focus should be on trying to find your passion as well as talking with people to hear their experiences. This blog post was a preview of what to expect in coming years.


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