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The “what do I major in” stress

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

When many people think of Stanford, they think of engineers, computer scientists and doctors. They think low acceptance rate, Silicon Valley, Snapchat and research. Stanford is synonymous with the cutting edge in technology, full of brilliant minds who constantly push the boundaries to advance our world. If Harvard makes the best lawyers, Stanford makes the best engineers. Many of these engineers feed straight into Silicon Valley after college with an almost guaranteed high-paying entry level job upon graduation.

I will not be one of them. I am majoring in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing.

Throughout high school, I took honors and AP math and science classes and avoided AP history and English classes. I took classes like AP Calc, AP Physics and Honors Chem and did relatively well in them. My older sister loved math and science, and so I quietly followed in her footsteps. She is a junior at Stanford and is majoring in mechanical engineering.

Upon arriving at Stanford, I had no clue what I wanted to major in. Enveloped by the thick engineering fog that surrounds Stanford, I almost took Chemistry 31A my freshman fall quarter. I laugh as I think about that now, but I don’t think I would have found it funny in the moment. Instead, I decided that I should take PWR and THINK. That way, come winter and spring quarter when I decided what fields I liked, I would have flexibility in my schedule.

My parents have always encouraged me to follow my heart. Their philosophy on college is, “Don’t pick a major because it will get you a job. Pick a major that you enjoy, and things will fall into place from there.” So why was it so hard for me to admit that I wanted to major in humanities? And why do I still feel guilty for not taking advantage of Stanford’s engineering and computer science programs?

All of my friends at Stanford enjoy math and science. Two of my friends are CS majors. Another starts the HumBio core this fall. Yet another wants to do MS&E. My roommate is a Earth Systems major. And, as I already mentioned, my sister is an ME major. I seem to be the only “fuzzy,” as they like to call me. When I tell people I’m an English major, they say “oh” and fail to hide the judgement on their faces. I can see their brains saying,”I didn’t even know people majored in English anymore, much less majored in English at Stanford.”

Ultimately, while sometimes I feel left out of the Stanford engineering craze, I hate math and science, and I love English and writing. So, I figure I’d better follow my parents advice and “major in what I’m passionate about.” And hey, I know I’ll survive after college because all of my STEM friends have separately agreed to let me stay on their couches in San Francisco once we graduate. So though I might not have a six-figure job out of college, I’ll be busy couch hopping — and I’d argue that I might have a little bit more fun exploring the streets of San Francisco and writing during the day than working a nine-to-five.

 

Contact Aria Fischer at afisch ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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