Upon returning to campus after winter break I decided to do something slightly unconventional for a first-year; I decided to declare my major. As of a couple of weeks ago, I am officially pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Declaring a major can seem stressful, especially for underclassmen. However, despite my confidence in my major choice early on in college, it was still a process to make my decision.
The summer before college I was probably the least confident in my major choice that I had ever been throughout high school. When I applied to Yale, the three majors I listed were Cognitive Science, History of Science, Medicine and Public Health, and Neuroscience. By the time I graduated high school I was telling people that I would be studying Cognitive Science at Yale. However, in that summer I started to think more about what I wanted my major to be. I considered adding English as a double major, I thought about studying Psychology instead of Cognitive Science, and I even considered options like the French Advanced Language Certificate. While my career goal remained the same, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there, which may have been the best way to enter college; I had a general idea of what I wanted to do but I was still very open to several possibilities.
After arriving at Yale I was thrown into my new academic life. I feverishly dug through CourseTable, a student-created website that shows all the courses offered at Yale, and the Yale College Program of Studies which shows all the requirements of all majors. After looking through everything and making several drafts of a four-year plan, I decided that the Psychology major most closely matched my interests. It requires courses in research methods, statistics, and neuroscience as well as courses in social psychology and cognitive science. The major was also flexible enough that I would have lots of room to explore other subject areas and potentially even add a double major or one of Yale’s certificates such as Education Studies or Data Science. I also really enjoyed my Introduction to Psychology course and when choosing my classes for my second semester I was most excited about my psychology classes.
All of the research and reflection I had done all culminated in a couple of clicks on my computer and voila, I was a psychology major. The immediate changes are fairly minimal; on our Student Information System in the major section it now says “Psychology” instead of “Undeclared” and my college advisor will soon switch from my first-year advisor to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Psychology. However, it feels good to know that I am officially pursuing this field and now I can focus on fitting all of my requirements into my schedule.
Even though I took the path of declaring my major fairly early, there are several paths you can take and the best part is that almost nothing is set completely in stone. I still have the flexibility to change aspects of my degree like adding the Neuroscience track or a certificate program and I could even change my major completely. Just as declaring my major took just a couple of clicks on my computer, changing my major would be a quick and easy process, which gives me peace of mind. However, for now I’m very happy to officially be a psychology major.