Why I take a diverse course load

Jan. 29, 2018, 1:00 a.m.

“What do you want to major in?” This is one of the top three questions you’ll get asked when someone finds out you’re a freshman in college. There are the students who are completely set on what they want to study. There are those who have absolutely no idea. And then there are those like me, who are pretty sure, but not 100 percent locked in. All three statuses are completely valid. That’s why we’re here — to learn about who we are and what we love, so that one day, maybe, we will be sure.

Personally, I came to Stanford leaning towards being an English major, and this hasn’t changed (yet). I took mostly English courses fall quarter, and this confirmed my love of words and my desire to devote my time to studying their magic. Often surrounded by STEM students, I prided myself on being one of the seemingly rare humanities students here. Frankly, I even found myself internally criticizing some STEM students for not giving the humanities a chance, when, as a matter of fact, I wasn’t giving STEM a chance.

One of the reasons I love the quarter system is that it allows students to explore many different subjects. While I love English, I have an infinity of other interests, as well as many paths I could decide to take in terms of deciding my major and my career. Stanford is the perfect place to explore those interests and those paths by taking new classes every ten weeks. This quarter, I decided to branch out of my comfort zone and take classes in Computer Science and Public Policy, in addition to Creative Writing.

I’m loving it. This may sound crazy, but I feel like I can literally sense the different sides of my brain working throughout the week. On an average day, I take a break from coding a program that solves the Pythagorean Theorem (for any CS majors — I know, it’s just 106A — but I think it’s so cool and so hard) by writing a war poem, before reading about whether or not mandate elections actually exist. This diverse nature of my courses has been really rewarding, as well as eye-opening.

By taking a variety of classes, I’ve learned that I do indeed love the task of writing more than any other type of homework I have. But I’ve also learned the satisfaction of debugging a code; yes, I admit it — I like CS and the logical thinking that comes with it (so far). And I’ve learned that while I find the history and trends of policy-making fascinating, I don’t think becoming a policy-maker myself would be a good fit. In essence, I’m accomplishing the goal of learning about myself, the world around me and my place in the world around me.

This quarter, I’m exercising my brain. I’m thinking: “Yeah, I really love English.” But I’m also thinking: “Maybe I should minor in CS. Nah. Well, maybe.” I’m deciding that law school is probably not for me. I’m wanting to try even more subjects next quarter. I’m exploring. I’m discovering what I like and don’t like. All in all, I’m getting closer to the unattainable state of “being sure.”


Contact Angie Lee at angielee ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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