Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Academics

STEM is Hard, and That’s Okay!

Updated Published
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

I came into Rutgers as a biology major. Now, I am rethinking things…

How I got here

When I was applying to colleges as a high school senior, I didn’t really have a solid idea of what career path I wanted to pursue. What I did have an idea of, was what I enjoyed in school–science. In the span of my four years in high school, I actually took biology twice, once as a freshman and the second time through the International Baccalaureate program. So, I applied to all my colleges as a biology major, considering the myriad of paths I could go down with pursuing the degree. I had medical school as an option, veterinarian school, or even teaching biology like one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Combs. Now, just over two months into my biology degree here at Rutgers, I am in a very, very different spot. As the title of this article suggests, that’s okay!

Stem struggles and a lack of direction

After only about two weeks of General Biology 115, I knew I had a hill to climb. In reality, it was more like a mountain. The best way I can describe the transition from high school biology to college biology is this: college biology is high school biology (yes, even IB higher level biology) on steroids. Well, isn’t that to be expected? Sure, college level classes, naturally, are supposed to be more difficult than high school classes. High school biology classes are meant to prepare you for college lectures, and college lectures to prepare you for becoming anything from a doctor to a researcher. If anything, I enjoyed the increase in difficulty in my other classes such as Working Women in American Society, and math. I was excited to finally begin the more advanced, interesting topics that I never learned in high school. Although, biology was a bit different. I thought the increased difficulty would, like my other classes, feed into my curiosity about the subject. In reality, it did quite the opposite. The increase in difficulty led me to struggle with tests and quizzes, not keeping up with lecture notes and material, and generally contributed to my increasing disinterest in the subject. Despite meeting with tutors, and attending office hours which increased my grade, I felt like I lost a bit of my passion for biology along the way. It just wasn’t how I remembered it.

Alongside my growing disinterest in the subject in general, I began feeling (and still do), a bit isolated from my classmates. Many of my friends pursuing STEM degrees have a clear focus on what career they want in the field. I have friends who know exactly what they want to have a career in, as they are on a pre- track, and the remainder have a general idea of what realm they want to enter after college. I, on the other hand, still have no idea what career I can see myself in within the STEM realm. After speaking to one of my classmates in biology, she asked me what I wanted to “do” with my Biology degree. I told her I had no idea. To that she asked what career I would enjoy in the STEM field in general. Again, I had no response.

Both my general disinterest (which slowly grows into a faint loathing) of my biology biomedical classes, alongside the realization that I cannot truly see myself pursuing a career in STEM, resulted in a small, existential panic. The subject I loved and had the utmost curiosity for, now barely peaks my interest. All of the paths I saw myself potentially pursuing back in high school don’t exist anymore. What do I do now!?

New Directions, advice, and closing

As a result of the small crisis I found myself in after realizing that biology is not for me anymore, I had a really helpful talk with my mom. During our call, I told her that, one, I really dislike biology, and two, I have zero clue what I want to do in life. We ended up talking about the things I do in my free-time that aren’t related to academics. I have a myriad of hobbies I enjoy, a few of them being: my crochet business I am working on starting, graphic design, and marketing my art I sell. From my non-scholastic interests, my mom helped me realize that I do have passions, passions which can stem into a career: communications and marketing. Funny enough, marketing and communications is what my mom does, so she has been an extremely useful resource in navigating different positions and paths in the field. So, I am currently in the process of changing my major from a STEM degree, to one in the arts and sciences.

Now, after I explained my story, I want to give some points of advice to anyone going through a similar situation, especially those switching out/considering switching out of a STEM degree. I want to begin with: you are not stupid. Any STEM degree is extremely difficult, and whether you are switching your major due to your current one being too hard or, similar to me, switching from a lack of passion, don’t let others tell you that you were “weeded out.” STEM degrees have the general stigma that only really smart people can succeed in them, therefore, those who switch out, weren’t “smart enough” to continue. If you want to change your major, the reason does not matter. Make the decision that is best for you. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, or have to “prove” you aren’t dumb. People try things and decide they don’t like it all the time. That doesn’t mean a person is “stupid” because they choose an alternative option. Remember: you decide what is best for you. Do not let anyone, including yourself, hold you back from pursuing what you enjoy and are passionate about!

Best of luck,


Hi! My name is Rita and I am a freshman at Rutgers University studying communications and journalism media studies. I write for Her Campus, and I am on the promotions team for Rutgers' radio station WRSU! I love to crochet, journal, and volunteer in my free time. I have a passion for writing and service, and I hope to pursue a career in the fashion industry!