Why I Chose My Major

There’s a certain feeling that I get when I act. It comes in the atmosphere following a scene, when the air is still sparking with breaths and dialogue, and my body is getting out of character and back into my own. It comes from the reabsorption of the past few minutes as I collect myself and return to the room, even though only moments ago, there were characters and plots unfolding from a different world.

Driven by this feeling, I decided that I wanted to study theater. As a senior in high school, I auditioned for schools all around the country. I memorized monologues and 16 bar cuts. I spent hours trying to find the perfect audition outfit that wasn’t a jewel-toned dress with nude heels. Ultimately, I was rejected from all but one college. The university that I did get into was a dream school, but I couldn’t afford it. Instead, I begrudgingly committed to my safety school and began as a freshman drama major. 

I got the feeling only once during my freshman year. I loved that one moment. It was a beautiful adrenaline high combined with the pride of having worked my ass off to nail a difficult scene. But that was one high among a series of lows. 

Driven by these lows, I reapplied to schools to see if transferring was a possibility. I still wanted to be an actor, but I thought that I was in the wrong place to achieve this goal. While I was waiting to hear from the schools, I built up the courage to talk to my guidance counselor. I needed a plan for if I stayed at Hofstra. The (disputed) Einstein quote about insanity epitomized my fears: if I did not change something and instead repeat the mess that was my freshman year, I would lose my mind. 

The author during her freshman year of college. Photo by Sara Lo Presti 

When talking with my guidance counselor, trying to hold back tears or another inevitable panic attack, I finally realized that I hadn’t disliked all of my classes. In fact, I really only struggled with my drama courses. When talking to my parents and friends back home about college, I would get incredibly excited to share my literature and philosophy discussions. When I had to read Antigone, I got to study a play from a non-dramatic viewpoint, which greatly improved my interpretation of the themes. I also had no qualms about writing papers for classes. In fact, I actually wanted to write more papers and read more books. At this point, I began to consider what would happen if I didn’t study drama but instead studied things that actually made me to learn.

I started to research any majors at Hofstra that even barely piqued my interest. I looked into Classics, Political Science, Comparative Literature, and English before eventually finding the History Department’s website. I looked over the available courses in the major, and, unexpectedly, I got the feeling. This time it was a little different. It was rooted in the future - a feeling of anticipation and excitement to learn about topics for which I had no previous knowledge. I wouldn’t dread to take these classes. I also met with the head of the History Department, who made me feel like I had control over my time at college. In my previous conversations with drama professors, I felt powerless and minute. This history professor, however, immediately began working to best integrate me into the department a year late. I now had a plan for if I returned to Hofstra. 

I did get into another university as a transfer, but again, the money didn’t work out. I came back to Hofstra for my sophomore year, incredibly anxious but determined. I knew that I had to make the school work for me. I took two history classes and one drama class during the fall semester, just to see if I was making the right decision. Within the first two weeks of class, I knew that history was the right major for me. I also joined a series of clubs with no relation to the theater department. I had defined myself by drama for the past eight years, and I had no concept of who I could be outside of theater. Through this exploration in addition to my new history courses, I finally understood the potential of my time at college. 

The author as part of Hofstra Votes. Photo by Hofstra University

I do miss drama. I miss getting that feeling after a scene. However, I also recognize that I did not like being a drama student at my school. Sometimes, things just don’t work out. My dreams and goals changed, and I had to adjust. I am a drastically different person now than I was when I first applied to colleges. Seventeen-year-old me might have thrived as a drama major, but at nineteen, I am so truly happy to study history at Hofstra.

The author as a very happy and confident History major. Photo by Maddie Merinuck

By October, I declared myself as a history major with a double minor in drama and french. I chose my major because I’m excited to go to my classes. This sounds like a simplistic approach to college, but it is a grossly overlooked element of education. Students are not supposed to dislike what they’re studying, especially at schools that cost $63,000 a year to attend. Obviously there will be difficult classes or professors that make life a living hell, but overall, students should enjoy what they’re learning. It took me far too long to realized this. 

To those of you struggling to find a major, first of all, breathe. Very few people know what they want to study for four years when they’re just juniors and seniors in high school. You are absolutely allowed to switch majors and feel confused and scared. Go to your guidance counselor. Talk to that professor that makes you feel valued and intelligent. Look up the classes that majors offer and see which field seems interesting and exciting. Remember, this is your education. You want to enjoy it.