Decide my major! by Shannon M. '12
Because putting your future up for a democratic vote is clearly the way to go.
Alright, you and I both have some big decisions to make in the next month. You all need to decide where you’re going to college next year (COUGHMITCOUGH), which, I mean, is a kind of a big deal and will in fact influence the rest of your life. No pressure or anything. I will weigh in with how best to make this decision post-CPW when you’ve formed your own opinions on how awesome MIT is.
But that’s old news to me, because it seriously feels like I was a senior a decade ago. I was burning time on facebook the other day going through high school pictures and was like, “wow, that was not a good hair d- was that just last year? THAT WAS LAST YEAR?” And I suddenly felt very old.
To add to this, I have to declare a major by April 17th. Yes, that means that while you’re all on campus not sleeping and eating more sugar than you’ve consumed ever and figuring out how you will fit your 7 free t-shirts back into your luggage post-CPW, I will be declaring what I tentatively want to do with my life.
This is terrifying. I have ~54% no idea what I want to with my life. Last week, I pretended I was a mechanical engineer, and it was pretty fun, but then I realized I didn’t actually want to engineer things forever. I was course 7 and 18 for about two weeks at the beginning of this year until MIT was like, “yo, Shannon, math is hard” and was like “whoa, you are definitely right” and promptly retreated from uber-1337 18.022 to the nice, cozy mathiness of 18.02. Currently, I’m telling people that I’m course 5, and I’m kind of liking it. It’s like dress up. Only… with… your life.
And this is where you come in. Decide my fate! Vote what major Shannon should choose next week when she meets with her advisor!
Course 2 (Mechanical Engineering)– So I’m in this class called “Wheelchair Design in Developing Countries,” which is incredible. I’m currently part of a team that’s working on a tricycle attachment for wheelchairs that will allow wheelchair users in Kenya (our current market) to travel the long distances (30 km, in some cases!) to work, a task made difficult by non-handicap accessible public transportation and current wheelchair designs. ANYWAYS. I really like getting my hands dirty and designing things. It’s pretty cool to look at a design and be like, “I made that. And it will change someone’s life.”
Like Fatuma, one of our partners in Uganda who came to visit and give us feedback on our designs:
My thoughts on majoring in MechE is that I would likely use it for biology or international development.
Course 5 (Chemistry)– My major du jour. I’m really enjoying being a pretend chemistry major. I LOVE 5.12, and I really like learning about biology from a chemical standpoint. I also took 5.112 in the fall, the hardest version of freshmen chemistry- it’s recommended for students with an “exceptionally strong background in chemistry,” which did not describe me AT ALL. But I was all “hey, I want a challenge, BRING IT.” And it did bring it. I quite literally failed the first exam (the ranges were A, B, C, Cause for Concern, and In Trouble, and yours truly made the honorable last category), but I was actually doing really well by the end and ended up learning a ton from the class. Best and worst decision I have made at MIT.
I like chemistry, which is funny, because I abhorred chem in high school. However, these shirts alone might just be enough to sway me 5. AND we get them for free when we declare.
Course 7 (Biology)– I came in as a hard-core Biology major. And when I mean hardcore, I mean there-is-no-way-I-will-ever-consider-anything-else hardcore. I had done Bio research in high school, had done the USABO, the whole works. It was my thing. As in, this was my response to the “what major do you want to be?” question:
I blame my love of biology on my feet.
Looking for something “alive, or that had been living” around my house, my 1st grade self sat down, peeled some dead skin off my foot, and brought it into school the next day to look at under a microscope. Watching my very own cells come into focus, I fell in love with a world outside my field of view.
A first grade amazement turned into a middle school obsession with enzymes, and by high school had morphed into an interest so deep that introductory college textbooks were far too broad for my interests. I began pouring through research journals and found myself happily studying transcription factors the summer after junior year, once working in lab everyday for over 4 weeks straight. I’d wake up every morning excited to leave my dorm, and would come home to argue the merits of biology versus chemistry with my dorm mates and sit in the lounge until late at night reading the latest scientific literature.
I’ve been a Course 7 major since the age of 6- who said young love never lasts?
Hardcore. I told you. Realistically, I still want to do bio research after I graduate- which path I want to take to that is an entirely different matter. (hence the having 5 options for my potential major)
Course 10B (Chemical Engineering with biology)– Like 5, only more engineering and biology- this is looking like a good way to potentially mesh the two.
Course 20 (Biological Engineering)– Now, this seems like the logical choice given all the above, but freshmen can’t actually declare course 20- you have to apply sophomore year, and acceptance to the program is based on your completion of the prereqs to that point. But we’ll include this in the voting, because if I’m going to go course 20, I should know sooner than later.
Alright, so here’s the ballot. Feel free to add your comments and/or lobby for your choice of major in the comments. If you offer to bring me cookies at CPW, I may or may not lend more credence to your vote*.
*Emphasis on the may not.