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Nov 05 2017
by Jamie Su

Why I’m Glad I Switched from A STEM to An Arts Major

By Jamie Su - Nov 05 2017
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It's hard to believe that a little more than a year ago, I was studying a program that I was unhappy with. Unsatisfied with my failing grades and feeling like I was stuck in a massive hole with no way out, I isolated myself and beat myself down, constantly asking myself, "Why am I such a failure?" I tried to study the material I was behind on, but to no avail.

During that pit of despair, I could have never dreamed of how much that would change. Now, I'm slowly crawling out of that rut I was in, getting more involved with what I enjoy and excelling in my classes, with my grades higher than before. Who knew that making one change to my academic path would create such a wonderful impact on my life? 

When I began my first term at university, I was excited to start school, make friends and succeed. I was proud of how unique my science and business major was and I was eager to balance an amazing social life with good grades. So when a month passed by and I was feeling miserable about school, had little social interaction and was obtaining poor grades, I started to realize how things had taken a turn for the worse.

Combined with the stress, big transition and homesickness, nothing was going right for me. I thought the major transition to university had taken a toll on my academics, but little did I realize I was also purely uninterested in what I was learning, which in turn, greatly impacted my grades and caused me to lose all confidence in my abilities. 

Then, during my second term of university, I was taking a course I'd dropped in the previous term and also taking new science courses which I disliked. I wasn't excited to learn about genetic codes, gene structures or gene orders. Did I even care about that? Did I really want to pursue a career in science for the rest of my life?

After further thought and discussion with my parents, brother and academic advisors, I decided that science was no longer for me and that I wanted to switch to the Faculty of Arts to pursue subjects I was considerably more interested in, which leaned more towards the humanities and more specifically, English. So, after my first year, I filled in some paperwork and was admitted into Honors Arts. With this program, I'm trying to obtain the credits and grades to get into the Arts and Business program, with a major in English - Rhetoric, Media and Professional Communication. 

Choosing to switch into Arts was no easy decision. Despite loving English and being interested in marketing, project management and business analysis, as a student who attends a university widely-known for its STEM programs, I was afraid of judgment for not being in one of those programs anymore, since my school isn't as known for the arts. However, I've learned that a school's name and reputation will only get you so far, as experience and what you make of your degree matters so much more. Plus, all that matters is whether you're enjoying what you're learning. 

But before realizing that and becoming a part of the Faculty of Arts, I used to overthink and question myself. Why wasn't I cut out for science? Why wasn't I capable of being in a STEM program? Was I just too stupid for it? Now, it all makes sense to me.

I've always loved English. I've always loved writing poetry and fiction, reading anything I could grab my hands on, editing, forming argumentative pieces and so much more. I've loved it from a young age and writing was never a chore for me; it was a fun activity, a way to pour out my feelings, a way to express my beliefs and a way to tell my very own story.

I'm not stupid for not liking STEM, it just isn't what I'm passionate about. In fact, I am in love with the English courses I'm currently taking. I love how I'm learning about topics I'm actually interested in; I love how I get to write papers, edit my work and do everything that comes so naturally to me. It also helps that the prospective English major I have in mind is the one that famous poet and alumni Rupi Kaur graduated with! More so, I enjoy creating business reports and market plans, analyzing market trends and creating solutions to business dilemmas. No more memorizing the 20 types of amino acids, no more solving the equation. Hasta la vista, chemistry.

Switching from a STEM to an Arts major made me realize and accept the fact that what I liked in high school and what I thought I was interested in didn't end up being what I wanted to study, and that's OK. In the end, the hobby and pasttime I loved so much, as well as my newfound interest in business courses, ended up being the right decision for me to pursue at university. That's the brilliant thing about university, you're given the chance to learn things about yourself you may not have known before, like your true interests and preferences. 

Frankly, I have no idea if I'll be accepted in the Arts and Business program, but I've learned not to dwell too much on the future. All I know is I'm happy in the faculty I'm in right now; I'm trying as best as I can, I'm working hard and I'm also putting my mental health first. With the immense and loving support I have from my family, friends and most importantly, myself, I'm slowly regaining back the self-confidence I've needed for the longest time.

Now, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash

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Jamie Su - University of Waterloo

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