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Why I’m not a double major anymore by Keri G. '10

Because four years of insanity would totally cramp my style?

Two days ago, I won a 35mm SLR on eBay! Now I have something I can use for the photography class I’ll get to take next term because I’m not a double major anymore.

Why did I ever decide to double in the first place, and why am I no longer majoring in chemistry? I have quite a few reasons. Pick your favorite one.

-I love chem, but I’m not good enough at it to last a second in a department where everyone seems to be premed but me. (My high school had a medical magnet program that I was enrolled in until my junior year, when I realized that I absolutely did not want to be a doctor. I’ve been taking science classes purely out of interest since then; doing so has suited me far more than any ambitions to go into the medical field ever have.)

-I decided to work towards the second major because there were a ton of chemistry classes that I wanted to take for fun, and when I checked things out, the “just for fun” classes put me three classes away from a chem degree. Regardless of what anyone may tell you, this is not a good enough reason to take on another major. It really isn’t.

-Recently, I came to the revelation I warned about way back in August or so: I hate physical chemstry. I also don’t want to be a guinea pig for Course 5’s lab restructuring, since my year is the first to be subjected to the new modular lab requirement. These were the three (now five) classes I needed to add for the degree. I still don’t want to take them.

-I’ve always wanted my time at MIT to be about learning for the sake of learning itself, and the emphasis I was placing on the double major was taking away from that. Once I fully realized what was going on, I knew that something had to change.

The best answer to the question, however, comes from my advisor, who after he heard about my former intention of pursuing a dual degree said this:

“Were you insane?”

Maybe I am. (I’ve wondered this many times before.) Just not insane enough to put myself through three more years of 60-unit semesters with no room to try anything new. I bought the camera to celebrate the end of my dual degree delusion. It’ll certainly be put to good use next term in SP.747, which I’ll be taking instead of 5.43.

I was at WMBR last night answering phones for fundraising week when I explained all of this to ArFox, a Course 5 grad student in the Cummins Group (oh, they say they’re all synthetic chemists, but that is a repository of physical chemistry if ever I saw one…). His reaction was to ask me if I’d even taken a physical chemistry class before.

“Not outside of general chem, no,” I said. (Fine, so he had a valid point.)

“Take one. The quantum mechanics of the blah blah blah chemical bonds blah blah awesomest thing ever,” he replied. (…what?! I stopped paying attention for half a second and got lost.) Since I listen to everything everyone tells me to do (HAHAHAHAHA), it looks like I may end up being a double major again. Or maybe I’ll just take 5.61 next fall.

One final note: I have a paper due tomorrow afternoon for my bilingualism class. I wrote this blog post instead. ^_^

21 responses to “Why I’m not a double major anymore”

  1. Farhad says:

    Is a double major in courses 8 and 18C posible at all?

  2. Isshak says:

    What ?? Chemistry is great ! It is so practical even in high school.
    So you are ging to change your banner ?

  3. Sam says:

    Oh man, the NSF grant essay I’m writing today is all about how I dropped my chemistry major. This is what you have to look forward to. Also, Arfox was the coolest 5.310 TA ever.

  4. Biyeun says:

    Yay! Thery is an awesome photo instructor–you’ll love her! And if you really like that class, you should take more classes at the Student Art Association. wink
    /end SAA plug

  5. lulu says:

    “Is a double major in courses 8 and 18C posible at all?”

    Anything is possible. But you see it every year, it’s way easier to start off in one major and add another if you have the interest and have the time than to start off as a double and discover that you can’t handle it. 8 is a pretty structured major- a lot of requirements, 18, not as much. But if you go for both more than anything else you’ll probably be 8B.

  6. Hank R. says:

    Totally reading this blog post instead of writing my philosophy paper due at 10am.

  7. I love chem! I also want to join MIT

  8. Reg says:

    I love chem! We can exhaust the school supply of sulphuric and hydrochloric acid! smile

  9. Anonymous says:

    Physical chem is great…it is so logical and makes sense…plus u don’t have to remeber stuff like in inorganic…inorganic sucks!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Good choice on dropping your double major. It’s better to enjoy life than to completely burn yourself out as a young-ling. There’s always the remaining ~60-80 years of your life to learn all the chemistry that you want. smile

  11. Akara says:

    The joys of chemistry grin. Yea its not my strong suit either. On another note Good Luck with your essay grin

  12. Sam 2 says:

    Chemistry is like a nice girl with whom I’m sure a relationship wouldn’t work, due to some irreconcilable difference (perhaps she is kosher and I love my Spam and milk). However, we’ll probably remain good friends, or at least healthy acquaintances.

    Oh, but physics… no. Physics is a crazy woman, probably with a short irrational temper of something weird and trivial, like red objects that are not apples. She’s just crazy and not fun.

  13. Hunter '11 says:

    I’m totally reading this instead of… tooling overall.

    I actually recently came to the conclusion that I needed to loosen up and learn for fun rather than be so flipped out about grades and med school all the time.

    Have fun ^.^

  14. Anonymous says:

    Physical chem is great…it is so logical and makes sense…plus u don’t have to remeber stuff like in inorganic…inorganic sucks!!!

    seconded!!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Your high school had a medical magnet program? Sounds cool; I wish my HS had one of those. But I guess that’s why you’re in MIT and I’m not.

  16. Hunter '11 says:

    You don’t need to go to a magnet school of any sort to get into MIT. I didn’t even know what a magnet school was until last February. I also didn’t know what Intel, AM-somethingsomething (that math competition), etc were until I started applying and hearing about it from everyone. I didn’t have any research, etc etc. I had one AP science (it was all my school had).

    MIT looks at how you take advantage of your opportunities, not whether or not you had them.

  17. Anonymous says:

    @Hunter’11 Yeah, I’m sure you put up with the same bigotry I did, and I’m sure that it was considered during applications. Nice to know everything’s such a wonderful meritocracy at MIT. Guess I’ll just go back to not doing everything in my power for four years to get into a choice college, cause, you know, I obviously didn’t do everything I could with what I had like you.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Can one take a major in Mech e and a minor in African Studies at MIT?

  19. Larry V says:

    “8 is a pretty structured major- a lot of requirements, 18, not as much.”

    The general math degree, 18-I, is *very* flexible. After 18.03 Differential Equations, you just have to take eight 12-unit Course 18 subjects of “essentially different content”, including six advanced subjects (18.xyz, where x > 0). “Essentially different content” basically means you can’t take more than one advanced algebra class, more than one linear algebra class, more than one combinatorics class, etc.; the finer details are at the Math Department’s website.

    On the other hand, Course 18-C (Math with Computer Science) is far more rigid (though not nearly as rigid as other courses). You must take one class each on:

    <ul>
    <li>differential equations</li>
    <li>linear algebra</li>
    <li>algorithms</li>
    <li>discrete mathematics</li>
    <li>computation</li>
    <li>introductory EECS</li>
    <li>software development/engineering</li>
    <li>4 more 12-unit Course 18 classes</li>
    <li>2 more 12-unit Course 6 classes</li>
    </ul>

    Of course, all of this must be “essentially different content”, with 5 or more advanced Course 18 subjects.

  20. Larry V says:

    @ Anon:
    Guess I’ll just go back to not doing everything in my power for four years to get into a choice college, cause, you know, I obviously didn’t do everything I could with what I had like you.

    Try de-convoluting your English and maybe some of us will actually think you’re witty.