Major: Undecided

As the end of my sophomore year draws closer with each passing lecture, I think more about my decision to major in English and Computer Science (College students have to declare by the end of sophomore year). Two, three years ago, as I was applying for and heading to college, I had absolutely no idea what area of study I would end up focusing on, which is why I applied to Penn, undecided.

It seems like there’s a certain stigma surrounding the undecided major; my peers felt that they should at least put Biology or History, something they were somewhat interested in but still unsure about. However, I know that there is nothing wrong with being undecided, as trite as that sounds.

What is important about being undecided is that you still have the motivation to pursue what interests you. My favorite subjects in high school were art and biology, and I found in Penn the ability to customize my academic experience to tailor my interdisciplinary interests. Biological Basis of Behavior and Visual Studies both appealed to me prior to my arrival on campus.

Freshman year, my friends would ask, almost weekly, what my new major was to be: the joke is that I changed my mind so often, cycling through BBB, Economics, Communications, Visual Studies, Psychology, and almost everything else so quickly that it seemed like I’d never settle.

Four semesters later, I’ve realized that at the core of my passion for biology and art during high school was a love for the beautifully imperfect human condition--something that, to my surprise, is very relevant to English. I am by no means an expert in literature; formal structures and Renaissance literature, for example, are still areas I struggle in. But the excitement of pursuing something difficult, achieving some level of understanding, and being able to apply larger concepts across multiple disciplines makes quite a fulfilling academic experience.

-Julia W. '18

My Double-Major Dilemma

My second year at Penn has been filled with grandiose plans that will hopefully launch me on the track to my post-graduation goals. The glamour of freshman year is fading, the realities of adult life are setting in, and the majors are being declared. One of them, at least…

I am officially declared as a Biological Basis of Behavior Major. Last semester, I wrote about a course that inspired me to pursue a second major in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. I dreamed of going as in-depth as possible, learning about the history, literature, politics, and cultures of the region. However, throughout the winter break, I took a lot of time to think about whether this was the best decision for my academic life.

My main question was whether I truly wanted a packed, regimented schedule for the next three years. When I sat to plan out my classes assuming I would complete the double-major, I realized that I would have no flexibility in my classes for the rest of college. What if I want to take a class for the sake of taking a random class? Does this mean I will never be able to take classes in Urban Studies, Health and Societies, or Computer Sciences if I want to?

Although I haven’t reached a decision yet, I’m incredibly grateful for the fact that I have the opportunity to pursue these various tracks. If I decide to continue with the major, I will leave Penn with a deep, nuanced understanding of the Middle East. If I don’t, I’ll be able to get a taste of the many exciting areas of study offered in the College of Arts and Sciences. Even though it can sometimes be daunting, the academic opportunities at Penn are truly limitless.

-Nitay C. '18