I applied to Tufts planning to major in biomedical engineering. I settled on that choice because math and science were my best subjects in high school, and I liked biology in particular. Plus, teachers and family members would tell me that I could reach my full potential and be most successful by being an engineer because of my good grades and my work ethic. I didn’t know much about engineering in high school, let alone biomedical engineering, but I figured this degree was probably my best shot. Worst case scenario, I don’t like my job very much, but at least I would make a comfortable salary.
In my first semester, I took Music and the Art of Engineering to fulfill the requirement for all first-semester engineering students to explore a topic of engineering. I loved that class and its hands-on group projects, but what really caught my attention was the glimpse of computer science that we received when we used MATLAB. I thought the way we stored, accessed, and manipulated information was so cool. I wanted to learn more, so I took Introduction to Computer Science in my spring semester. I loved the class. Working in the labs with teaching assistants and other students in the class made the learning experience easy and personal. Every assignment amazed me with what I could do with a computer. By the end of that semester, I chose to declare a major in computer science because I was so excited by the class and I wanted to do more.
That same semester, I was also taking Introduction to Child Study and Human Development (CSHD) because I needed to take a social sciences course. I was surprised that there was a college class about the topic, so I took it out of curiosity and some experience volunteering with kids. That class led me to consider making the CSHD program a bigger part of my academic experience. At first, I wanted to pursue a minor in CSHD. Then, through reflecting over winter break of my sophomore year, I realized that I liked working with kids more than computer programming, so I decided to declare a second major in CSHD and transfer from the School of Engineering to the School of Arts and Sciences to reduce the requirements for my computer science major.
Through experimenting with different classes and gradually changing my academic plan, I realized that in two years I had changed my trajectory quite drastically. Biomedical engineering to CSHD is a huge shift, and I don’t think I would have made the transition at any other school. I credit the changes to the culture of academics at Tufts that encourages students to take classes that are interesting and different for them, not always classes that will make their transcript more impressive for graduate schools or employers. Since all students enter with an undeclared major, regardless of what they put on their application, people do not feel trapped by the academic interests that they had during their senior year of high school, and they have the opportunity to explore their options. Because of that freedom, I was adventurous with my classes, and I stumbled into a path that consistently excites me. I am thankful for my Tufts experience and how it has led me to two majors that I’m confident will make me happy.