Time for a Major Change

September 7, 2007

Haha. Oh puns, you complete me.

Anyway, as I said earlier, I’ve been thinking a lot about my major. As of now, I’m ‘officially’ a chem / math double major. Which on the surface seemed like a lot of fun. You get to blow stuff up in chem and compute things in math. What more could you ask for?

Well, it turns out, a lot. My freshman first semester of chemistry was fun, mainly because I didn’t have to do any thinking. It was ‘General’ Chemistry, which basically meant AP Chemistry, Redux. Because of an awesome AP Chem teacher, I was able to go through the entire first semester without cracking open my book. And the tests, well, they were fun when they involved math [ie stoichiometry] and less fun when they involved non-math [ie VSEPR theory].

Then organic came. And that’s when I had my first doubts about my major. Mainly because the class got harder. Slowly I realized how much of a different game orgo is, so I had to step it up. By the end of the semester, I’d gotten into the swing of it, and from that point on I was happy with it.

And then came this semester of O Chem. I don’t know, we’re doing lots of instrumental stuff [IR, GC/MS, NMR], machines you use to determine / verify the identity of a compound. Which, come to think of it, is pretty cool. Which leads me to think my sudden desire to switch out of chemistry is more of an attitude problem than anything else. Just like last year, I’m approaching college from the wrong perspective. I’m trying to just coast instead of mastering the material. And coasting is easy, but it’s not challenging [and therefore not fun].

The real smack in the face about my major comes from other peoples majors. I hear about philosophy majors taking all these really cool classes, like Political Philosophy, or Ethics; I hear history majors talking about taking classes on warfare as a cultural phenomena; I see all the psych classes on cognitive psych, on neuroscience, etc. And I think to myself, “Wow, all those classes look like a lot of fun. Wait, huh?” If all those classes look like more fun than what I’m doing, why do I continue to do what I’m doing?

A brief caveat: I think I might just find those classes more attractive because I’m not in them. For example, I don’t have to do the work, so I just think about all the fun reading and writing that I would get to do. But the moment I have to do it for a class, I imagine my driving desire to learn the stuff would shut down. Which is interesting because it’s true about science too. I love learning science, but put me into a class with homework, tests, and assigned readings, and suddenly something I’d otherwise enjoy doing becomes a chore.

And one more reason why I think I might want to switch majors: I love reading and writing. I love math too, but it’s not the sort of thing I spend my free time doing [at least, not as much as I used to]. I seems to me that if I love reading and writing so much, and if I’m at least marginally proficient in either, that maybe I should pursue a major that encompasses those, instead of a major that involves mainly laboratory work that a, I’m not that good at, and b, I don’t really find all that enjoyable.

My current thinking is that I might want to do a Neuroscience / Philosophy double major. Though that’s pure speculation. I figure that philosophy is cool, but neuroscience is basically philosophy for the 21st century. You can speculate, hypothesize, and write logical proofs all you want, but when you get down to the nitty gritty of it, you still need the science. And that’s where neuroscience comes in: the study of how our brain works, and therefore how we even perceive the world in the first place.

That’s the current State of the Union for my major. I’m only two weeks into this semester, so who knows what will happen in the remaining three months. But I do know I don’t really want to spend an extra year in college, so if I’m going to change, I’d better do it soon.

Thanks for your interest.



One Response to “Time for a Major Change”

  1. dave in the back said

    Oh no, major change! You can’t do that, everyone in the darmon family was a chemist.

    You might have to explain the importance of the connection between philosophy and neuroscience to me, but sounds like a good choice to me. Better do your homework though… I’d imagine that that stuff isn’t easy, with the memorizing endless conditions and responses. But hey, memorization is what you’re good at.

    Well, good luck either way.

    Dave in the back

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