I arrived at Penn as a bright–eyed freshman, armed with a Gustav Klimt wall poster, a New York Jets teddy bear and all six seasons of "LOST" on DVD. As I met new people during NSO, whether at the Penn Summer Reading Project (doubtful) or in frat house bathrooms (more realistic), that age–old question always arose: “What are you studying?”
I confessed that I had no idea. The thought of already knowing what I wanted to major in before classes had even begun was absurd to me. Penn is a liberal arts school and I intended to take advantage of it. After all, I didn’t have to declare my major until the end of sophomore year. What was the rush? I had time.
But here I am, nearly two years later, with my Penn InTouch still reading “Undecided.” I’m on registration hold. I’m technically not allowed to go abroad. My inbox is flooded with unanswered emails from my pre–major advisor, most of them along the lines of “Advanced registration is OVER! What are you doing?!? PLEASE MEET WITH ME!!!!”
Time is officially up.
I almost wish I was one of my pre–med friends, who complain about biology almost as much as they Instagram baby pictures of themselves wearing stethoscopes (#destiny). I even envy the Wharton kids, who dominate our Forensics lecture instead of just going on Facebook like everyone else. All of them came to Penn equipped with an idea, a vision of themselves in ten years. Picking a major (or a concentration) was just a formality for them. But it’s not for someone like me, who still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. To me, the idea of a major seems suffocating. Confining. A meaningless label on a four–year education that stretches far beyond the realms of one undergraduate department.
Because this is COLLEGE. We’re young and stupid and drunk 50% of the time. And for eight semesters, we have a world of knowledge at our fingertips. Seriously! There’s never going to be another time in our lives where we have this freedom to just run around and try to figure it all out. All of the intriguing courses and amazing professors that Penn has to offer are ours for the taking. I can make as many Penn InTouch mock schedules titled “ryan gosling do me” as I want. That "Psychology of Food" class sounds yummy (lol), and I really want to take that Filreis class on the Holocaust. And why shouldn't I be able to? The real world looms beyond the other side of graduation. And once we cross over, we won’t have so much wiggle room.
I guess I take it back: declaring a major really will be a formality. But not because I’ve found the key to my future. It’s just a pesty stepping–stone to get me abroad next fall, to take me off registration hold, to calm down my frantic pre–major advisor who probably thinks I’m dead. I’ll just pick something, anything, and hope that I still have time to find out who I am going to be. After all, I still have two years left.