What Should I Major In?: Anxieties About Your Major
C. Alexei Sepe
PHHS ‘17, Boston College ‘21
Coming into Boston College, I was dead set on my ambitious choice, to double major in political science and economics. In high school, I loved politics and being civically engaged in my community, and I wanted to study the ins and outs of political life. But economics? I mean, I need to get a job after college, especially with the debt I’ll be racking up after four years, so economics is obviously a safe choice. It’s one of the most popular majors at my college, and it’s a safe bet if you want your ‘return on investment.’
After taking my first political science class, I knew I was going to stick to this major. Reading Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, and Rousseau in an academic setting was exciting to me. Learning about these political thinkers’ work and ideas was a refreshing detour from the rest of my classes, which were primarily courses I had to take as part of our core curriculum/general education requirements. We were exploring the ideas of political thought, whether it was democracy, monarchy, capitalism or communism. I was passionate about analyzing this discourse and forming my own opinions, which I expressed quite clearly and forcefully in my papers. Yes, I could see myself studying these things throughout my college career.
On the other hand, microeconomics was the bane of my existence. I could not stand my lecture in micro. It wasn’t because of my teacher, she was probably the most popular professor in our school and she was laid back and super supportive. Honestly, it wasn’t even because the subject material was hard. I found microeconomics intuitive and fairly straightforward. For me, the biggest challenge was that I could not get myself motivated and enthusiastic to show up to class, be engaged in the discussion section, and to study for the exam. I realized that economics is not that exciting for me, and I could not imagine studying this subject at the higher level. I asked myself: “Imagine sitting in a microeconomics theory course next semester, which would be way harder.” Nope, not for me.
But the other part of me said: “How are you going to get a job after college?” Economics is a versatile major, and people go on to a wide array of business sectors after they graduate. Political science, on the other hand, felt limiting in a way. Will I only have opportunities in government? Who needs political science in their corporate office? Nevertheless, I decided at the end of my freshman year to change my economics major to a history major. If you know me, you know that I love history. Though I am an unabashed history nerd, I never thought majoring in history was a viable option for me. Again, the pressure to get your ‘return on investment’ in college is great and understandable.
Now, as a rising senior, I can safely say that I do not regret my decision to be a political science and history major. I’ve met passionate, driven professors who care for academic excellence in the history department. I’ve taken interesting courses on ancient Roman history, Irish history, and American sports history. And, I’m lucky that my passion for history has translated into good grades. Fortunately, I’ve found two subjects that I truly love at college.
Most colleges do not make their students declare a major until the end of your sophomore year. If you are going into college undecided, don’t worry at all. If you realize you like a class, maybe take that subject at a higher level. If you don’t, you’ve successfully narrowed down what you don’t want to major in. If you’re coming into college with your major in hand, be open to exploring other disciplines. You may as well change your mind once you actually have to take a college-level biology or sociology course. There is no pressure to choose the right major. Indeed, your goal should be to study what you love, and you can expect to reap the benefits as you enter the workforce.