Advising at Penn

When I was a freshman at Penn I thought I wanted to be an economics and computer science double major. I really liked math in high school so I figured I would naturally like econ as well. Meanwhile, I also took computer science in high school and figured I would do a double major to incorporate some technical skills into my Bachelor’s degree. I had it all planned out.

However, as my freshman fall semester began and I got deeper into my Introduction to Economics class I realized that I definitely did not want to continue with the subject. I was shocked (and also disappointed) that I didn’t like Econ. More than that though, now I felt lost and had no idea what I was going to major in! If not Econ what else was I going to do? During this mid-semester pre-major freshman crisis one of my friends approached me and suggested I visit the college office of academic support to meet with an advisor during their walk-in- hours.

While I already had a pre-major advisor, I was definitely looking for a new perspective and someone who I felt could direct me in the right direction. So, I found their walk in hours conveniently located in Claudia Cohen Hall (a building I frequented for class and ironically was home to my econ lecture). Walk in hours were every day and open for about three hours. This meant I could just walk right into the office and meet with any available advisor for 15 minutes. I could ask any questions I wanted about my academics and future planning. So, that is exactly what I did and I could not have had a better experience. I met with an advisor who pulled up my record quickly and listened to my rant about what I did and did not want to do. She then showed me a few different departments and majors that she thought I would be interested in. I continued to narrow down her list until I stumbled upon the cognitive science major, which is a combination of psychology, computation, linguistics, philosophy, neuroscience and math. This major was perfect for me! It was everything I was interested in and all the required courses for the degree seemed to really spark my interest. Those 15 minutes were life changing and I walked out of those walk in hours with a new major and a new direction!

Penn offers their students a lot of resources and if you seek help anywhere, Penn is likely to provide exactly what you need. Additionally, it is okay to not know what you want to do before coming in as a freshman! I found out mid-semester that my original plan to study economics and computer science was not going to work out. It is totally okay to change your major and explore new options, this is what Penn is all about!

-Stephanie W, C'18