The summer going into my first year at Swarthmore was filled with questions. Some I asked of myself. Many others asked me. Perhaps my least favorite of all the questions falling into the second category was: what are you going to major in? Throughout high school I had considered public health, history, political science, and anthropology, but at the end of the day, I simply didn’t know. I was surrounded by classmates who knew they wanted to be mechanical engineers, biochemists, journalists, data analysts, so when asked that question, I felt the need to have an answer besides, “I’m not sure.”
I am here now to say it is alright to embrace being undecided. Despite how it may seem, there are people who do not know what they are interested in pursuing after high school, and it is ok if you are one of those people. By acknowledging the uncertainty, I gave myself space to explore academically without the stress of having to have it all figured out.
My first semester on campus I enrolled in: Foundations of Chemical Principles, Psychology of Language, Introduction to Psychology, and Intensive Intermediate German. I learned German and chemistry were not areas in which I was going to continue taking courses, but I still enjoyed my experiences in the classes. I also learned that I find psychology and linguistics incredibly interesting, and, after three more semesters, I decided to major in linguistics thanks in no small part to that first class in the department. In my first semester, I took classes in four departments I had never considered in high school because of the freedom being undecided in my major gave me.
The following semester I enrolled in: Statistical Methods I, Sociolinguistics, Introduction to Linguistics, and Power and Pedagogy: An Introduction to Education. I naturally continued with classes in the Linguistics Department, but decided to take both a statistics and education course. I took STAT 011 (Statistical Methods I) with no expectations except to fulfill part of my natural science distribution requirement. I ended up loving the class and decided to move forward within the Math Department as a result.
My academic exploration did not end after my first year at Swarthmore. Sure, it has been refined to focus on areas I now find particularly interesting, but every semester I still try to surprise myself with a new class in a new department. As I continue moving forward, I am now embracing being undecided in my plans for after Swarthmore. In doing so, I am again giving myself the time and freedom to decide what I may be interested in pursuing.