We are only a week into the semester, but I know that sophomores everywhere are already freaking out. Maybe an uncle asked them about what they were studying during a Christmas or Hanukkah get-together, maybe Mom and Dad are gently nudging them to have a more concrete path for their future, and maybe a pre-major advisor asked them what their plans are for the summer. Either way, classes have barely begun, but the stress of picking a major (and deciding one's future) has already reached a new level of terror, especially for second-year students.
I came to college pretty much knowing what I wanted to study, which is a rarity among most first-year undergraduates. Many of my friends tested the waters, jumping from International Relations to Middle Eastern Studies, engineering to math, and even economics to psychology. When teachers asked us to go around and state our area of study, the majority of my classmates would cringe before embarrassedly saying, "Undecided" then sighing, and when I said I wanted to go into education during my freshman Fall semester, I got a lot of glares and remarks of jealousy.
But, like I said, I am the exception to the rule. Besides engineering students, who have to apply to a different school and typically pick a specific program before arriving to campus, most of Tufts students have no idea what they want to study, and that's okay. In fact, we were accepted primarily because we were so passionate, curious, and interested in so many things that the admissions officers felt that we could find our place in a variety of studies and settings. Although many freshmen and sophomores I know avoid talking about majors and minors because they are overwhelmed, frustrated, and perhaps even scared, the reality is that there is no reason to be. We are at a school that makes us work hard while also bringing out our inner drive and goals, which make our future studies eventually fall into place.
The incessant questions and suggestions from our peers, teachers, friends and family about our academic program can get extremely annoying. We already have our internal pressure to do well that we would appreciate not hearing our parents tell us that we "better keep our grades up" and "pick a major soon before senior year comes and you don't have the right credits to graduate" for the millionth time." Honestly, we just need some peace.
But, I am here to tell all of the freshmen and sophomores who don't know what they are majoring in yet that things get better. Do your distribution requirements and take classes that are both fun for you and strike your interests. Ask around for great teachers that older undergraduates have had, and try some of those classes. Take a class that you never thought you would have time for, or that you never even dreamt of studying for a whole semester, and jump right into it. In doing so, you will not only get the most out of your liberal arts education and enjoy yourself doing it, but you will actually find a field that brings out your best self, which is (arguably) the best part of a person's college experience.
Even though I have wanted to be a teacher for a long time now, taking Intro to Child Development and Creative Writing: Fiction deepened my appreciation for writing and language and guided me down the more specific path of literacy and literature. Taking these classes brought me to my double major, and I can now take the classes I am passionate about without sacrificing time and energy for courses I am not excited about. Each class reinforces the love that I have for my areas of study and for the appreciation I have for attending a school like Tufts, which allows me to pursue so many things at once.
So, if you're deciding between sociology and philosophy, French or art, chemistry or biology, do not freak out. Go with your gut, think about the classes you have enjoyed the most, and run with it. You can always drop your major and switch in a new one later, and if you feel like you're running out of time and won't graduate, there are so many resources and people who are willing to help you (like me!). You're going to be great in all that you do, and I cannot wait to see where your interests lead you.