With college looming around the corner for a lot of you, the question of what major to pursue comes into sharp focus. I know in the months leading up to college I became more and more unsure of what I should do in college and what the “right” major was. Looking back, I was going about choosing my major the totally wrong way, and here’s the lessons I’ve since learned:
1. Your Major is Not a Decision for Life
I get it, it feels like you’re choosing the rest of your life. Honestly, don’t try to think about what you’ll be doing when you’re 47 years old. Engineering is so multidisciplinary and the lines between majors blur more and more every day. Engineering as a degree is a foundation. The problem-solving skills you’ll acquire from Viterbi will benefit you in any career, and there is always the option to change your field or career at any stage in the game.
The crossover between these different areas of emphasis we define is chosen by you, and I’ve met biomedical engineers working at Microsoft, and mechanical engineers on Wall Street. Actually, this ViterbiVoices Podcast features Professor Finley from our Biomedical Engineering department and discusses the crossover between some of the engineering emphasis. You’re not locking yourself in, so choose something you find interesting and roll with it.
2. Your Major is Not Even a Decision for All of College
If I could go back to my senior year self and give myself one piece of advice, it would be to stop micromanaging the future. I lost so much sleep trying to think what each major would give me, and what the classes would be like. I was essentially trying to divine if I would like chemical engineering or not using a mixture of extremely biased anecdotes from college forums and hocus pocus.
You aren’t blood-tying yourself to a major for the next four years and a lot of people change their majors once they get into college and get a better idea of what they want to do. At Viterbi, courses are also structured with the understanding that some of you will switch your major in the first year so you won’t even be behind more than a class or two. Though instability is scary and we want to be sure of our lives, it’s okay to test the waters!
3. Your Major Doesn’t Decide Your Involvement
This point is less readily apparent but equally important. You’re not tied to your major beyond the classes you take, and you can be involved in Rocket Propulsion Lab if you’re not a mechanical engineer and Concrete Canoe if you’re not a civil engineer.
Your college life is as multifaceted as you are, and your major is a large part of it, but it’s not everything. There’s so much more that’s important to your #ViterbiLife beyond your classes, so own it and define yourself as the engineer you want to be.
Fight on (for choosing a satisfying and prosperous major that fits your lifestyle and values)!Meet Maria