“What’s your major?”

Besides “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?”, this was the most frequently asked question of my freshman year. I understood why; it was one of the fastest and easiest ways to get to know someone and find common ground to spur small talk. Unfortunately, my answer came to me neither fast nor easy — I changed my major far too often to feel honest about myself whenever I answered the question. In fact, I had three major changes before my sophomore year alone.

Part I: Course Selection

I applied to Hopkins early decision as an English and History double major. I wasn’t too concerned about what I applied as; I knew Hopkins was very flexible with dropping, adding, and changing majors, so I just applied with two things I was interested in studying in college. I also figured that I was going to graduate with a degree or two in that general area, so it wasn’t a big concern if I had to change my major midway through since the credits I already took could be used to fulfill those majors.

Fast forward eight months. I’d been accepted at Hopkins. It was July, and it was the day before course registration. I put down random classes – Second Year Chinese, Calculus I, China: Neolithic to Song, Intro to Fiction and Poetry Writing 1. All were super general and non major-specific classes, and I didn’t really do research on my courses. I felt pretty lost, but as long I had some courses to register the next morning I would be fine.

Part II: Freshman Year

Skip to orientation week now. I’d talked to the Chinese professor and was slated into the right Chinese class, which allowed me to take more classes since Second Year Chinese was 4.5 credits, whereas First Year Heritage Chinese for native speakers was only 3. I was also allowed to skip the first semester. I decided to double major in International Studies and Writing Seminars, picking up a Macroeconomics and Korean War in order to satisfy some prerequisites for International Studies. I was planning to apply to the Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) on the BA/MA five year track, and if that didn’t work out, I would apply once I graduated. If I changed my mind, well, law school could always be an option.

I ruled out the BA/MA program once I talked to one of the advisors for SAIS. She was amazingly helpful and clarified many things about SAIS. The BA/MA program wasn’t the only path I could take if I wanted to go to SAIS — in fact, if I was just a bit unsure about going to graduate school for International Studies graduate school, I should just wait until I finish undergrad to apply. She encouraged me to even take a few years off to study and work before applying to graduate school. She said that a percentage of people applied to SAIS for the clout, which was the entirely wrong reason to apply. I wondered if I was doing the same — SAIS is very prestigious, and a number of my upperclassmen friends have either applied or gotten in.

That did it for me. I was going to finish undergrad, double major, and then apply to SAIS after I finished senior year.

Part III: Kappa Alpha Theta

I blame my sorority for this last change. But I also have to give credit where it’s due, so I guess I’m giving them credit as well.

I really loved graphic design and interacting with others. I was disappointed when I accepted that a job in the field of international studies wouldn’t require any graphic design and less of interacting with others. When I joined Theta, I met so many sisters who were going into the marketing, consulting, or business fields. They were business, marketing, or management minors, and they had gotten offers at big firms as consultants or analysts. I realized that this was something I’d really wanted to do in the future, and I would be happy if I did.

It was easy to switch. I’d completed a large amount of my credits for East Asian Studies, and it would be feasible to declare that major and pick up double minors in marketing and management. I had room, too, for a second major. And because the pathway I was taking for my East Asian Studies major had a lot of overlap with Sociology, I declared that major to fill up the extra space.

So here I am. It’s been a wild adventure trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I guess the point of it all is that it’s never too late to do whatever you want to do, or study whatever you want to study. This all wouldn’t have been possible if not for Hopkin’s open curriculum and endless support from my advisors, professors, and peers. Even though I’m not even close to figuring out my life, I’m very happy. And even though I can’t predict the future, I think I’ll be very happy then too.

Until next time!
— Steph