Already in Middle School I had decided to be a French major in college. I took every class offered in high school. Maybe I aimed to teach, become a translator, or work in France. Things took a different twist when I got to college. Sure, freshman year I took French and declared it as my major. I also took a variety of art classes as that was a secondary interest of mine all throughout school. I declared practical arts as my new major. I didn’t think that I could support myself on my art unless I became a commercial artist. It is an entirely different electronic field. It’s a good thing I kept on changing my major at that stage in my college career.
Why and how do students pick a major anyway? They are no doubt drawn to certain subjects like a magnet. It may or not be correlated with a specific job down the road. You find that you simply are drawn to certain teachers and courses at the exclusion of all else. Many students I talk to now tell me that selecting a major “just happens.” Most colleges and universities have strict course requirement in the interest of a broad education. Something exciting can therefore fall into your lap.
Well sophomore year, it happened to me again. I had abandoned French and art, but I fell in love with art history. I had never heard of it before but it miraculously utilized my French and fine art skills while I learned a new body of knowledge that integrated everything on earth: history, culture, taste, and human creation. I had a solid new major junior year that I kept until graduation. I am glad that I stuck with it as it helped me get a four-year graduate school scholarship at UCLA. The art department there was interested in new art history students for advanced degree programs. It took another four years of study, but wonderfully, I was able to obtain a university teaching job upon graduation.
You might think I am fickle as many students go to college with a major already in mind, including medicine, law, engineering, or business. I think the process was rewarding and led to a long career at Arizona State University. I was an educator, researcher, mentor, and advisor to students from eighteen to eighty. Many years later, I took up art collecting for myself as an adjunct to my specialization.