Confusion Corner: Majorly conflicted
November 19, 2010
What are you majoring in? It’s one of the first questions you’re asked during orientation, usually as part of the name game — I’m joyful Jason, and I’m a philosophy major. It’s also one of the first questions you’re asked during fraternity or sorority rush, at a party, on a date or during basically any experiences you have in college. Your major defines you, fairly or not. My good friend Taylor is a neuroscience major; people are impressed when they meet him. I’m a philosophy major; people ask me where Taylor is. While I have absolutely no idea what to do with my major, I have found that it is the field of study which I enjoy the most, and for now, that’s good enough for me. The quest to find the perfect major is not always an easy one for members of the Tribe, however.
Everyone had their favorite subject in high school and simply could not wait to hop into a 300-level course in that subject first semester freshman year. “I got a four on my AP Biology exam, how hard can it be?” The answer: soul-crushingly hard. Nothing can make first-year students question even their most fundamental passions like a security guard telling them that they really do have to leave Earl Gregg Swem Library, seeing as it’s now 2:30 a.m. And as they emerge from their hiding spots in one of the group study rooms, dust themselves off, and blankly mumble something about microtubular organization centers and chromosome segregation, it hits them: maybe they don’t want to be a biology major anymore. In fact, suddenly English is seeming like a pretty solid major. Yeah, English is probably just fine.
Then, of course, there’s the guy majoring in something you would have never guessed. You’re relaxing in your dorm on a Tuesday night, watching “Extreme Home Makeover,” when you hear a commotion in the hallway. You crack open your door to see your drunken hall mate belligerently making her way to her room, banging on every door she passes, stopping numerous times to pick up the cell phone she just can’t seem to hold on to. As you watch the train wreck make its way past you, you turn to your roommate and remark, “What a mess,” to which your roommate responds, “Dude, she’s pre-med.” Your mind is blown, and you suddenly feel a lot worse about your own inability to balance parties and practice tests. It also raises the greater concern: Do you really want her operating on you one day?
As either the jubilation or devastation of registration wears off and cooler heads slowly prevail, thoughts slowly turn to eventual majors and career paths. As an upperclassman, my advice is this: Don’t worry about it. You will know when you find the right major. In the same way you knew when you found the right college, the feeling will simply be there. And don’t worry if you have absolutely no idea what kind of career you could ever have with that major. If worse comes to worst, you could be the only waiter in the whole restaurant who can recite Descartes verbatim.
__Jason Rogers is a Flat Hat Confusion Corner columnist. As a philosophy major, he likes to spend his days debating ancient political thought on the terrace.__