Tag Archives: major

From the Courthouse to the Congo

I knew university would teach me new things, but I never thought the topic would be myself.  I went into university with a solid plan of completing an undergraduate degree in business, and continuing onto law school, with an end goal of specializing in corporate law.  Now, halfway through my first year, I have this new desire to go study primates in the Congo.

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Everyone is constantly searching the Internet during course selection time, googling “bird courses at UofT”.  Unfortunately, these don’t exist at UofT, but we never seem to give up hope.  This is exactly what I was doing during my course selection time, and I came across a biological anthropology course, which everyone said was “a total breeze”.  I’ll tell you now, that’s a major exaggeration, but when I read it then, I really wanted to believe it.  So, I ended up taking this course that was completely out of my field of study, hoping to use it to boost my average.
Now, with only a few weeks left of the course, it’s no longer “just a bird course” to me— I’ve actually really come to love it. So much so, that it has me reconsidering my entire career choice, or at least my choice of major.  I now find myself looking up field research opportunities during the summer, that take place in countries like the Congo or Costa Rica, that provide you with the opportunity to study primates such as howler monkeys and, my personal favourite, bonobos.
Yes, this is confusing as it does conflict with my original plans, but this just shows what university is all about— learning about yourself and your interests. Taking courses that are completely out of your league (especially during first year) may actually work to your advantage, and you may end up discovering hidden passions you never knew you had.  Thankfully, I was introduced to this field early on in my university career, and definitely plan to integrate it into my future.  Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, because you never know what you’ll find!
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Eenie Meenie Miney Mo…

…. Is not how you go about picking your major.  Flipping a coin won’t cut it, either.  Unfortunately, there is no short-cut around this decision, and it’s going to take a ton of consideration.  The time to declare our majors is quickly approaching, and ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away.  Unfortunately, I can’t offer any advice, as I’m currently struggling through the same crisis, but I have had the opportunity to ask some upper years, and here’s what they had to say about this crucial time of your education:

“I remember when I was in high school, I freaked over every decision that ever had to be made, so you can imagine how stressed I was when I learned I’d have to decide what I’d be doing for the rest of my life by the end of first year.  Sure, you can easily change majors, but I was intent on completing university in 4 years.  So, I did tons of research about the best possible majors, asked people for advice, and endlessly searched university sites, desperate for help.  Then, I remember I came across this corny quote online that said, ‘The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life’.  And from there, the decision was easy.  That’s how I ended up majoring in history— my love for historical films and novels got the best of me!”— Second Year Student

“I’ve switched majors about a million times, but I think I can finally say that I love what I’m studying.  Don’t accept ‘acceptable’… make sure you’re in love with what you’re studying!  Asking other people for advice about what you should do really won’t help.  Trust what you love. And if it turns out you hate it, change it.  It’s not so bad.”— Third Year Student

“The biggest mistake I think students make when declaring their majors is failing to consider all their options.  There are over 60 possible majors out there, yet most of us only know about ten— philosophy, bio, psych, history, etc.  Do some research and explore all of your options.”— Fourth Year Student

“As crazy as it may sound, I know a ton of people who are majoring in stuff they are horrible at.  They seem to think that just ‘getting by’  in these courses is good enough, that the only thing that matters is getting the credit under your belt.  I don’t think they realize these courses are just a taste of what their future career will entail… it’s not going to get any easier when you’re actually working in the field.  So maybe that’s a hint you’re in the wrong field.  Try picking a major where you’re getting mostly A’s and B’s in the courses.” — Fourth Year Student

Hopefully the advice from the older and wiser will help you make your tough decision… Good luck!  And remember, don’t overthink it.