A Crisis of Curiosity

When I arrived at college during scorching heat and clear skies, I (naively) had my life all mapped out. As the warmth transitioned to a comfortable fall breeze and now finally to frigid February cold, I came to the realization that, as it turns out, I don’t exactly know what I’m doing with my life.

At the start of first semester, if asked my major, I would confidently and unhesitatingly reply, “English and anthropology.” Now, however, I’m not so sure. It’s not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy both classes last semester; as a matter of fact, I found both classes engaging and fulfilling. I suppose the issue is that I think I would find many other classes just as engaging and fulfilling.

I’m curious and indecisive…
As the semester progressed, I realized more and more majors that seemed relevant to my passions and life aspirations. For example, hearing friends describe their political science and international relations classes intrigued me. I’ve always followed politics and current events and want to integrate the two into my professional life. My friends’ descriptions of these classes seemed to align precisely and concretely with my interests and aspirations. Disciplines such as journalism and comparative literature also attracted me. As an avid reader and writer, anything combining the two interests me. Though I’m fortunate to have such a wide array of disciplines that would fulfill my interests and passions, the diverse options pose a problem for an eternally curious and indecisive individual like myself.

…but Rochester lets me dabble.
Although I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to major in, I still knew that I wanted a vast range of academic opportunities when I was picking my schools. This was one of the major factors informing my decision to attend Rochester, since I wanted a top private university that was also a host to academic freedom. At Rochester, I can pursue my various interests and explore major options comfortably, because the university encourages study of individual interests rather than a forced curriculum. So although my crisis of curiosity is still stressful, it’s also exciting because I can comfortably dabble in different academic disciplines until I’m entirely certain of my major.

And although I am decidedly a student of the humanities and social sciences, I miss the logic and rigidity of numbers and equations that accompanies math and science. Luckily, I am still able to take math and perhaps someday science classes through the wide variety of coursework accessible to students. I am even encouraged to study these disciplines through the cluster system. The cluster system allows students to take three classes in disciplines outside their major(s).

No matter what my final degree is, between the academic freedom, the cluster system, and the vast array of coursework I can choose from, I know I will graduate from Rochester challenged yet fulfilled. In the meantime, I will continue to search for a major, and we can all look forward to a future blog post with a picture of an overjoyed me sporting an “I Declared My Major Today!” sticker.

About the author

Natalie Ziegler

Hello! I'm a member of the Class of 2018, and I study anthropology and comparative literature. Within my comparative literature, I study fiction and creative writing, as well as gender studies. I spend most of my time on campus studying in the beautiful Rush Rhees Library, but I can also be found at various Students' Association Government functions, at work in the gym or the Department of Rare Books, cohosting an online radio show for WRUR The Sting, or relaxing with friends. I enjoy exploring Rochester's neighborhoods and its downtown, and I love newspapers, biking, and reading.

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