Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Undecided Major? No Problem.

     Many students come to college with a clear-cut picture of what they are going to major in. I thought that I was one of those students.  I had really enjoyed AP Physics in high school and I thought that I would be a Physics major at UVA and pursue a physics or medical career afterward. 
Physics Building at UVA

     After a few science classes my first semester, I realized that the sciences were no longer my passion. A major is an integral part of your college career. It determines what classes you will take, what your daily life will focus on, and what your future career will be. Realizing that the sciences were not for me, I had to find a new major.

     How was I going to find my niche? Would Art History, Economics, or Anthropology be my passion? UVA has a very wide breadth of classes and departments. For every interest, there is a course.  Finding a new major seemed daunting at first. I searched Lou’s List for new and interesting classes. For those of you unfamiliar with Lou’s List, it is a website created by Professor Bloomfield of the Physics department which hosts previous and current class offerings.  I also asked my first year RA and other upperclassmen for course recommendations.  There is also a number of resources available to students who are uncertain of their majors or careers, including University Career Services. I ended up taking a number of interesting courses and eventually I found my passion and majors. 

                                      Lou’s List- Useful Website with Course Schedules

I am now a double major in Foreign Affairs and Linguistics.  Majoring in Foreign Affairs means that I spend the bulk of my time in Nau Hall.  The major in Linguistics is interdisciplinary, which means my classes are spread out all over Grounds.  These majors are both heavily reading and essay-based, a far cry different from the lab reports and equations of Physics. Foreign Affairs appealed to me because of its focus on how states interact and, more importantly, why events occur the way they do. A major in Linguistics was a great fit for me because of my love of language. 

Nau Hall Photo Source: http://www.virginia.edu/webmap/popPages/201-NauHall.html

 Some books for International Relations classes

     Being undecided actually proved to be one of the greatest experiences of my college career. I took diverse classes that I never would have taken if I had maintained the same major plan as the one I came to college with. Because of my undecided status, I was able to have a wide background basis of knowledge for future classes. For example, when my Foreign Affairs course was discussing Psychology as it applies to international relations, I had the knowledge from a Psychology course to bring to the table. Initially being undecided actually turned out to be an asset in the long run. I became privy to the knowledge of Philosophy, Art, Economics and Anthropology, among other subjects. In my opinion, the point of college is to broaden your mind on the whole and to discover who and what you want be. Taking a variety of courses not only gave me the benefit of a wide range of knowledge, but it also allowed me to find my true calling. I was able to push my boundaries and expand my own horizons. Moreover, UVA students have until the end of their second year to declare their first major, so there is no rush! Don’t be afraid to take a course in something you know nothing about; you may just find your niche. So if you come to UVA with nothing more than a notebook and a thirst for knowledge, don’t fret. You, too, will find your way.

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