Hello everyone and welcome to Cooper’s Corner! This is the first article in a series where I answer your questions! Yes, that means you! If you’d like your question to be answered in the next edition of The Hoot, feel free to scan the QR code and let me know!
Our first question is: how do you find the right path to take in college?
I think that the best way that I can answer this question is by explaining how I got to my current course of study, which is a double major in Computer Science and Environmental Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies.
I came into Brandeis thinking that I would be studying psychology. I loved my AP Psychology class in high school, and even took a few online psychology classes from community colleges during COVID-19. But, during the first semester of my first year, I took a psychology course (which I won’t name) that made me question my passion for the subject. The teacher seemed to care so little about the topic that I found myself wondering if psychology was really what I wanted to study. I asked myself, “If I can’t handle taking one class with a professor who doesn’t care about psychology, can I really devote myself to a career in this field?”
The answer was “No,” and I began to think about what I might try to study next during winter break. I thought about what other subjects I cared about the most. I thought about how upset it made me that big companies are able to destroy our planet with impunity.
I took that feeling, and decided to enroll in two Environmental Studies courses during the spring of my first year. I loved them, and now I’m almost completely done with my Environmental Studies major.
As for Computer Science, I’ve liked computers for a long time. I built a PC with help from a few high school friends during the pandemic, and really enjoyed working with hardware. But I never learned how to code, and had always wanted to, so I picked up Python last summer. It’s definitely a more difficult course path than Environmental Studies, but I want the challenge that data structures presents.
But, even after I figured out my majors, there was still more to adjust. I started my sophomore year going for a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Environmental Studies, but I’m now planning on getting a B.A. in Computer Science. If I were to get a B.S., I would be doing five classes in a semester for the rest of my time at Brandeis, and I can already tell that it would be cruel and unusual punishment to do three or four high-level computer science courses at the same time. So, I chose self-preservation and I’m now pursuing a BA.
So I changed up what I was studying once, and then refocused exactly how I was studying it at a later point. And I think that’s great! College isn’t about choosing one subject you liked in high school and binding yourself to it for four more years, it’s about finding new subjects you might like and exploring them. So I’m glad that I didn’t enjoy my first college psychology course. I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to find a new path by a professor that I didn’t like. I encourage everyone to do the same: if you can, take a course in a subject outside of your major. See if you like it, and adjust your studies if you do!
Some people know what they want to do for the rest of their lives from the moment they set foot on Brandeis’ campus. But for the other 99% of us, I think that making the decision to try things out is healthy and necessary.