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Apr 03 2017
by Celia Janes

Why I'm Glad I Switched Majors

By Celia Janes - Apr 03 2017

I first entered college as a history major. This had been my plan since tenth grade when I fell in love with AP World History. I loved analyzing historical processes and events. I believed it was the perfect major to prepare me for a career in law after graduation.

When I took my first history course in college, however, I found that I wasn’t in love with the subject the way I used to be. I still enjoyed learning about overall trends and individual stories, but I found that I hated reading primary sources. I didn’t understand the excerpts we had to read from Machiavelli and Plato. The professors’ lectures weren’t as interesting as I had hoped they would be.

While I was becoming distanced from my history classes, I was beginning to fall in love with one of my GE courses: Biotechnology and Society. I hadn’t liked science in high school, particularly chemistry and physics. However, I soon found that I enjoyed the humanities aspect of the class. The class didn’t focus just on genetics and biological processes. We also focused on the ethics behind biological research, the historical applications of biotechnology and the laws behind public health in the United States.

I entered my second quarter of school still as a history major. I was trying to explore other programs as well, such as a minor in math. I was still feeling unhappy about my major until I received an email during the second week of school. The History department was hosting an open house for a brand-new history minor! The minor consisted of seven classes, two of which I had already taken, and one class would overlap with the Human Biology and Society major. In addition, I would still have the option to partake in history-related research. The next day, I began to make a four-year plan to fit my major and two minors into my schedule. I found that I could easily enroll in my new major and minors while still graduating school a quarter early. After speaking with an Honors counselor, I went down to the Life Sciences building and officially declared my new major and I couldn’t be happier. Here are the seven main reasons why I’m glad I made the switch.

1. I feel more secure. 

I primarily entered school as a history major because I am pre-law and I knew history was a good major for preparing for a legal career. However, one question was always in the back of my mind: what if I don’t want to attend law school by the time I graduate? While I don’t expect this to happen, I know it is a possibility and it is common among pre-law students. With a more science-oriented major, I feel more secure about future career options in case I still decide not to attend law school.

2. I have a specialization. 

History is not unique for law school majors. It is a great path if you want to go into more generic types of law or you want to work in a firm. With a science major, however, I have the option to someday work in a more specialized field. My degree will give me the necessary skills to work in biotechnology or health law. Biotechnology is a growing field and I am excited to someday be able to work behind-the-scenes when it comes to the development of new technologies.

3. I enjoy the subject more. 

This is always the best reason to switch majors. If you hate the classes you are taking for your major, you will not do well in them and you will not enjoy your career when you graduate. Major in a subject that interests you, not one you feel pressured to major in. When I realized that I enjoyed my biology classes more than my history ones, the switch became a no-brainer.

4. I have the opportunity to take a greater variety of classes. 

At my school, history majors can only take classes within the history department. If you want to take classes in other subjects, you must have a double-major or a minor. With human biology and society, however, I am able to take a wide variety of classes in subjects such as anthropology, history, sociology, psychology and philosophy. I am able to take these classes along with the science classes that are required for the major such as chemistry and biology.

5. I feel like I am making a difference. 

 When I say this, I don’t mean that history majors are incapable of making a difference in their communities. What I mean is that the field of biotechnology is currently growing and has the capacity to help people on a grander scale. I felt like I did not understand the purpose of the ancient history prerequisite classes I was required to take. The subject was interesting but not relevant to modern society. In my science classes, however, we learn about the modern implications of new technologies and the ethics behind them. My studies in this field have shown me how it will grow throughout the next century and potentially save thousands of lives.

6. The subject is relevant.

 Whereas history involves the study of past events, biology looks toward the future. It looks toward improvements in biotechnology, cultural shifts in the practice of medicine and a worldwide shift to better medical care. It involves creativity and innovation that I simply couldn’t find within a liberal arts major. It is more applicable to many modern situations and can be used to solve a variety of problems in our society.

7. With our current administration, studying science is more relevant than others. 

 The Obama administration was fortunately pro-science. It supported research on climate change and stem-cell research. Our current administration, however, denies climate change and is trying to prevent access to healthcare for millions of people. In the current political climate, it is more important than ever to support science and research. This is an aspect of our society that affects us all and we must continue to fight and vote for candidates who are pro-science.

It is not my intention to discourage anyone from pursuing studies in the humanities. I personally enjoy the humanities and still plan to minor in history. However, I personally feel much happier as a science major. It fits more accurately with my personal life goals. The best advice I can give to anyone who is considering switching a major is to find something you are passionate about and you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Choose a degree that you will be proud to have on your diploma. This is the most important aspect of choosing any course of study and it will take you far.

Lead Image Credit: Jesse Orrico via Unsplash

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Celia Janes -

Celia Janes is a sophomore at UCLA. She is majoring in Human Biology and Society with a minor in History. She enjoys running, reading, and watching Netflix. Her favorite classes include Journalism in high school and Italian Film in college. She is involved in Bruin Scouts, Honors Fellows, and HOOLIGAN Theatre. She loves trying new food and exploring LA (especially new hikes) in her free time.

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