What I wish I knew: stop stressing about academics

September 28, 2018

Within an instant, it seems Mother Nature has grown angry; letting her breath be laced with a sharp chill and creating stricter curfews for the sun. With each passing night, Mother Nature is making her presence known. It was through this shift in weather that I realized the nuance of time.

Although I have been on campus for a little over a month, it feels like so much more time. With so many activities, classes and opportunities to make the most of one’s time, it is understandable for a busy Brandeisian to lose track of the days. Recently, however, I heard the most unsettling concerns from some first years—I feel so behind, I have no idea what I want to major in. Should I have declared a major already? Is it too late to change?

The answer to these questions is no, take a deep breath and let me put your mind at ease.

The beauty of a liberal arts education is being able to dabble in everything and anything your heart desires. With about 45 majors and 50 minors, Brandeis has a multitude of different areas to peak your interest. From creative writing to German studies to applied mathematics to environmental studies, there is a wide array of subjects that can be studied.

Understandably, it is a bit intimidating when reviewing the course catalog, especially as a first-year. Not knowing what courses to take, who the teachers are and what the ideal time frames are to take classes: First years have to live and learn through these pretty daunting issues.

I have been assured by upperclassmen that we will grasp the ins and outs of class selection in no time, yet there is nothing wrong with “making a mistake.” Whether it be taking a 9 a.m., even though you are an active night owl or attempting to tackle a six-course semester, you will learn from your “mistakes.”

In reality, there is no such thing as a mistake when it comes to class choices; they are all different opportunities for you to learn what to do and what not to do for the next time around. At the beginning of every semester, there is a two-week shopping period where students are encouraged to try different classes without any administrative consequences if classes are dropped and switched.

Although this semester’s shopping period ended Sept. 14, I encourage you to take advantage of it next semester.

Inevitably, Brandeisians will have to diversify their course selection because of the general education requirements. Required to take a writing seminar, quantitative reasoning, non-western and comparative study, foreign language, oral communication and a physical education course allows students to expand their interests beyond the courses they are accustomed to. In addition to the mentioned above, students also have to take courses through the departments of science, social science, humanities and creative arts.

The classes to fulfill these requirements are identified on Brandeis’ webpage and you can see how many requirements you are currently fulfilling on your Sage account through the undergraduate degree audit tab. The purpose of these requirements is to have fun and broaden your horizons; you never know, you may try a course you never would have thought to and really like it.

Having all this information being thrown at you may be slightly overwhelming, but you are not going through this alone. Multiple advisors are at your disposal to ensure you have all the information and guidance you need to have a successful four years at Brandeis.

Roosevelt Fellows, academic advisors, class advisors, professors, department chairs, CAs and upperclassmen will gladly chat with you and help you figure out a game plan for your future. Advisors, Roosevelt Fellows and professors are easily accessible through email and have opportunities for you to make appointments with them to have a well-thought-out discussion about your future plans. Here at Brandeis, there is a support system in place to ensure that you do not merely drown or float; there are multiple resources at your disposal that enable you to swim.

Ultimately, we have time! We are not cemented to any field of study, and we are granted a unique opportunity to test the waters and find a subject that speaks to our love of learning. Try, experience and take advantage of all Brandeis has to offer. Don’t forget, you are not in this alone. There is an extensive support system here to make sure you succeed. Therefore, try that weird class you want to take, get advice from those who were in the same shoes as you and remember, you are only in your first month of school, time is on your side.

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