Making Major Moves

When I applied for college last year, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I took classes and led clubs in different fields of interest. For starters, my AP Chemistry teacher was also the advisor for the MESA Club I co-led. She said I’d be good in a major like chemistry or biochemistry. I’m honestly pretty fortunate that I had a teacher that constantly believed in my abilities and skills. Add that onto the fact that I’ve been considering a career in engineering since freshman year, and that led me to thinking that I could be Hannah Montana and get the best of both worlds by combining chemistry and engineering into chemical engineering.

(Upon coming to Berkeley last semester, I very quickly found out that this was not exactly how chemical engineering works, but I digress.)

So I sent my UC applications, applying as a chemical engineering (or ChemE, for short) major. By then, I was already conditioning myself that I shouldn’t expect that acceptance letter. I knew that not only is the College of Chemistry one of the more rigorous colleges on the Berkeley campus, but the college’s majors and programs are also some of, if not the best programs in the entire world. Naturally, when I received my Berkeley acceptance letter in the middle of test corrections with my AP Economics teacher, I was super ecstatic.

Yet, even though I was so excited that UC Berkeley chose me as a new admit in the College of Chemistry, I was already set on changing my major when the opportunity showed itself to me.

An accurate recreation of myself when I debated switching majors.

Okay, let’s pump the brakes a little. You may be wondering, “Alright, Neomie, what gives? Why hype up the College of Chemistry only to talk about switching out of it?” To better answer this question, I want to rewind back to high school for a second. Apart from my involvement in STEM-related classes and extracurriculars, I was also a student under my school’s law academy.

Let me briefly explain my high school’s academy system. After their first year, students are required to choose an academy, which contains an amount of core classes in a career field to help prepare them in any postsecondary studies. At my school, our academy options vested in health, law, information technology, or ROTC (Junior Training Corps).

Back to my thrilling narrative, I was a law academy student, and our senior class was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the State Capitol in Sacramento and present a legislative proposal to office representatives of then-Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and State Senator Nancy Skinner. This happened in December, a little over a month after I sent in my college applications. My group got to present a proposal to add practical application curriculum such as financial literacy to the representatives’ respective board members.

I realized that I really enjoyed what I did on that field trip, and because of this, I started thinking about changing my major and pursuing a career in law even before decisions came out. I still like exploring topics in science, but when I thought about what I wanted to do with my life professionally, all I could think about was a career in the law field.

Changing a major can honestly seem a little scary. It’s often difficult to switch tracks because some majors may have vastly different prerequisites, and you might not finish your course load as early as you’d like. Personally, though, I don’t see anything wrong with discovering that you want to pursue something entirely different, and I’m even happier with what I’m deciding to pursue.

Author: Neomie Hinanay

Hi, my name's Neomie Hinanay! I'm a second-year Legal Studies major. In just a little under a full academic year, I've come to learn about and love Berkeley more than I've ever imagined. I'm also a Mic Woman for Cal Spirit and a volunteer at 90.7FM KALX Radio! When I'm not studying for classes or getting involved with spirit, I'm usually exploring the campus or laughing at my (excellent) puns with my friends. I'm so excited to learn even more about the Berkeley campus and share my findings!