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Peer Adviser Post: Declaring a Major

Peer Adviser Post: Declaring a Major
By Zhaoqi Li, CC '15

By the end of NSOP my freshman year, I had already crafted an 8-semester plan, accompanied by when and where to do what internship during which summer. Needless to say, I was a little (or a lot) crazy. By the end of my first semester, I had already “changed my major” no less than 3 times, and each time, I had a new 8-semester plan. A year later, when I actually had to declare my major, I miraculously arrive at a solid decision: I will major in Biochemistry. I didn’t even think twice about it. So, how did I go from a triple major PoliSci-Bio-EALAC to Biochemistry?

My first 3 semesters here was a giant intellectual melting pot. I took classes that interested me. I hated some of them. I love some of them. I joined clubs. I quit clubs. I let my curiosity guide me, and I can’t say it led me to a wrong place. I love all the classes that I am in, and I look forward to graduating and doing something with my degree. I would say the biggest factor into choosing my major came from my working at a cell biology lab at the CU Medical Center. I joined the lab as a work-study student doing menial tasks, but over the course of my time there, I eventually graduated to doing my own research. I learned to be scientifically skeptical, but more importantly, I learned to think. I felt like I was living the life of a scientist, and I loved it. By then, I had a pretty good idea that I want to pursue science as a career. I declared Biochemistry, because that was a discipline that offered me the most flexibility in terms of post-graduation plans, and the rest is history.

I suppose the moral of the story is to approach major declaration with an open mind; try to not let the departmental coursework guide your major decision. I never would have chosen a major had I been planning hypothetical schedules based solely on my research of the CC bulletin. Test your palate in the intellectual buffet offered by all the clubs and organizations at Columbia until you find your favorite, and go after it!


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