“What do you want to major in?”
That’s probably the question I always hear and it’s truly frightening to hear it. Mainly because I’m currently a sophomore in my second semester, still undeclared and not sure what to major in. I always thought that I had a knack for leading people – being that aggressive, unafraid, confident type of person who has the capability to be someone big and powerful. To me, that screamed Business and that’s what I decided to pursue. For those of you who don’t know, the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley is prestigious and requires a second application to get in once you’re at Berkeley. So essentially, if you want to major in business at Berkeley, you have to reapply and hope to God that you get in. Unfortunately, for me, I was not one of the lucky 50% who was accepted.
It was life-changing. It was the first time in my life that I truly felt like a failure. I decided to leave all the other business schools I got accepted into (NYU’s Stern, USC’s Marshall, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper, UT Austin’s McCombs) and take that chance to work hard for something like Haas, but coming all the way to California from Texas and failing at the one reason I even came made me feel so worthless. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had to go get my wisdom teeth pulled out literally thirty minutes after finding out the result — worst.dentist.experience.ever.
And after having passed that obstacle and coming to grip with myself, I realized that I didn’t really have a back-up major. Most students who apply for Haas either know what their second/back-up major is or they just go with Economics because they have the same pre-requisite courses as business. But for me, I took an intro class for Econ and realized I hated it. So what now? It was too late to pursue other interesting majors such as Psychology and Media Studies because I have to apply before junior year for those majors with all the pre-requisite classes already taken. My other option was Sociology, a major that I actually have come to be very interested in, but if you ask anyone in my family or any group of my friends who went off to UPenn, Columbia, Harvard, etc, they’ll all say to not do it. “Who cares if Berkeley’s sociology department is #1 in the nation? It’s sociology. It’s not practical like math or computer science.” That’s what others made it seem like and it was tough having to decide between what I thought was the money-making path and what I wanted to do.
If you’re reading this, you should know that I think about life. A LOT. I’ve been planning my life path since early high school. I remember at one point, my life plan was — graduate at 22, work for 3-4 years, go to grad school for 2 years, marry at 28, have my first child before 30. You’d think I’m crazy but that plan is still in my mind. It doesn’t hurt to feel like there’s some security in your future. And for me, I want to make a lot of money when I grow up (don’t we all) – so much that I can own my own Chipotle restaurant (for those daily cravings, of course), buy my parents a golf course, and support a child in Africa.
So back to my topic – I’m currently caught because I feel like I’ll regret either path I take. What if I major in Economics and spend four years majoring in something I don’t want to do and I end up regretting it? What if I major in Sociology and not get the job I want in a financial company and end up regretting it? Why couldn’t I have just done the stereotypical asian thing and pursued engineering or pre-med? Everyone tells you that what you major in College doesn’t matter, and that you really should do what you want, but to what extent is that true? Will majoring in Sociology still give me the same chance to get into a large firm like Deloitte or Ernst & Young as someone who majors in Math or Economics?
I know what you’re probably thinking — why don’t you just do both then? Well, reader, unfortunately I wish I could but after planning my remaining two years, if I were to double major AND keep in mind that I need to take Accounting classes to be eligible to take the CPA exam (yes, I’m going to be a CPA), I would be at Berkeley for over four years. And although some people would love to stay in college forever, I don’t want to enter the workforce as an old person, and out-of-state tuition is stressing my poor father who is working his energy off to support my family. It’s funny — people at Berkeley say that out of the three things: Sleep, Social Life, and Good Grades — you can only really have two of those. And it’s so true. To those who can manage all three, please teach me your ways.
Now I realize I’m just rambling and I’m not really sure where I was going with this — but to anyone out there– if you’re reading this, help! What would you do in my situation? Or if you’ve been through life longer than I have, what words of advice could you give me for someone who’s currently a first-generation immigrant, a member of generation Y in this wonderful American society, and a constantly stressed out 20 year old female college student who’s just trying to make something of her life?
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
-Henry David Thoreau