A guide to having too many interests
Some people have known exactly what they wanted to do for a long time. They know, with 100% certainty, what career they want to have and what college major they need to get there. I am not some people. I also suspect that you are not that person. You likely have many interests and careers that you’re considering, and you can’t figure out how you’re supposed to distill all of that into one college major. As someone who has definitely been there, done that, you should know that you have several different options in college that will help you meet those different interests (whatever they may be). Here’s a few of them:
- A Liberal Arts College
Okay, so this one is slightly self-serving given that Agnes Scott is a liberal arts college. However, as a proud liberal arts graduate I think this is an important place to start. Liberal arts education, at its core, is about giving you a broad base of knowledge while allowing you to focus on multiple disciplines. Liberal arts colleges focus on the undergraduate experience, and they often allow students time to decide on a major (at Agnes Scott, you don’t have to make an official decision until your sophomore year).
It’s also important to know that regardless of what interests you choose to dabble in, liberal arts college prepares you for professional success in the future across majors, with skills in critical and creative thinking, strong verbal and written communication, the ability to work in teams, data fluency and problem solving. See more at this great post by the Colleges That Change Lives. For Agnes Scott, one of the ways we do that is through our SUMMIT experience for all students, regardless of major, to lead to strong professional success outcomes.
- The Interdisciplinary Major
What do I mean by this? There are some majors that seem pretty unilateral, but interdisciplinary majors mean you get to focus on multiple interests in one major. Take, for example, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major at Agnes Scott. If you are in this major, you’re going to take classes that focus solely on these topics, but you can also take classes that are cross-listed with Human Rights, Political Science, Religious Studies, Religion & Social Justice, Statistics, Psychology, History, Sociology, Anthropology, Art, English Literature, Creative Writing, Music, Education, Public Health, Film Studies, Pre-Law, Classics, Theatre, German, Asian Studies, Africana Studies and sometimes multiple of these at once.
What about one of Agnes Scott’s most popular majors, Public Health? You’ll take classes in Public Health, Biology, Statistics, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Environmental Studies, Pre-Law, English Literature, Women’s Studies, Chemistry, Economics, History, Africana Studies, Physics, Religious Studies, Business Management, Philosophy and Human Rights. Or maybe a STEM major, like Neuroscience? That will include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Molecular Biology, Psychology, Mathematics and Computer Programming. Most majors aren’t just one thing.
Double majors require hard work and discipline. But they are a great way to get to focus on multiple interests that you can show with your degree. Students have done endless double major combinations at Agnes Scott, from the ones that seem to make a lot of sense (History & English Literature) to my personal favorites, ones that seem very different (Biology & Dance). Why not? Why not both?
- Minors and Concentrations
So a possible reason not to do the double major is that it does add to the number of courses you need to take. If you want to take advantage of other opportunities, like semester-long study abroad programs, adding those additional classes may not work. That’s where programs like minors and concentrations come into play–all the fun of a double major with slightly fewer classes and a little more freedom!
Minors are an excellent opportunity to dabble in fields that you are interested in in a formal way without having to take quite as many classes a major would take. They’re always an option.
Here’s the thing: most colleges require you to have a major. And most have some sort of general education classes that you need to take. But beyond that, well, the world is your oyster. Declare a major and then take the classes that interest you outside of it. No one says that every class you take has to be one that’s decided for you, and in fact, it’s better if it isn’t. Sometimes you find things that help you clarify your career goals. Sometimes you find the knowledge that will see you through the rest of your life. Sometimes you accidentally stumble into another major because you just happen to like history and politics classes (I speak from experience).
Let’s break down an example. In a normal four year curriculum, there are eight semesters. At bare minimum, you’ve got four classes in each semester for a minimum of 32 class slots. Let’s say you’re an English Literature major. For your major, you’ll take about 12 classes (10-14). That’s still 20 class slots. Okay, so you also have general education courses. At Agnes Scott, that’s going to include:
- LDR-101 (your Leadership seminar, where you’ll get to choose your topic)
- GBL-102 (your Global Journeys course in your firs-tyear that will include a Global Immersion Experience)
- Proficiency in a non English language. If you start from zero at your knowledge, that’s four courses.
- ENG-110 The Craft of Writing
- SUM-301 ACE
- Physical Education
At maximum that’s 9, leaving you with 11 courses. You also have to take SUMMIT Breadth Courses, but those are found throughout the curriculum in everything you may want to take a class in. So do it! Take the classes! Try all the things! There are no classes that won’t leave you with additional knowledge and skills that you can use as you move into the future.
There are a lot of options out there for you; you just have to be willing to seek them. So embrace your inner curiosity-seeker and take the chances; they will all be useful in the end.
Rachel West is the Director of Enrollment Marketing at Agnes Scott College. Yes, the international studies program happened by mistake. Yes, she’s used all of that knowledge in one way or another.