It’s Really Not About the Major

By Siena Swift ’22

These days, most high school students are pressured to decide on a major, if not an academic field, before applying to college. Many colleges or universities require you to apply into a major or school within the university, and transferring into a different major can often be difficult. I personally didn’t think about these issues when applying to colleges, because I had my heart set on majoring in politics and creative writing/journalism.

In the first few days of orientation at Pomona, during the “It’s Not About the Major” session, I learned how many alumni were currently working in fields outside of their undergraduate major. This panel emphasized how broadly applicable the skills are that you learn at Pomona. For instance, you might major in biology but end up working in health policy. Pomona teaches us how to be better writers, communicators and critical thinkers. Our breadth of study requirements are designed to give us not only an introduction into a variety of fields, but also proficiency in vital areas such as ethics and analysis. I encourage all prospective students to allow themselves the leeway to change their mind about not just their major, but their careers after Pomona.

News team for TSL my first year

I may not be the best example of the first part of this philosophy since I entered Pomona fairly set on majoring in politics, and here I am today, a rising junior and politics major. I even declared my major at the end of the first year. While Pomona doesn’t have a journalism or creative writing major, I’ve found outlets for my writing through my on campus jobs and through The Student Life newspaper. My writing has also improved a lot because of my classes, and there are creative writing courses I hope to take before I graduate.

However, what I want to do after college has already changed a million times. I used to be 100% sure I was going to go into politics, but now I realize that politics informs everything in life. I don’t have to be a representative to participate in political movements and activism. And I’ve actually learned at Pomona that there may be many better ways to help people.

students on newspaper's news team second year
TSL news team my second year

A lot of students also come to college with hyper-specific ideas for their degrees, believing they need a double major or two minors to make their time at college worth it, even at a liberal arts college such as Pomona. I’ve also run into the question, “So are you going to double major or add a minor?” many times. The politics major at Pomona has one of the lowest course requirements, making it flexible and fairly easy to combine with another major. While I considered this option at first, I realized that, if I was to double major, I would be left with little room to explore outside of those two disciplines. The flexibility of the politics major is what sealed the deal for me to declare it as my major.

TSL staff second year
Full TSL staff!

Coming in to college, I knew that I had a variety of academic interests, from history to sociology, to literature and art. I immensely value the ability my major gives me to explore other fields while also gaining a wide range of political knowledge. In the end, we all graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from Pomona College with a wealth of new ideas, skills and passions. I encourage all incoming students to allow themselves the freedom to change their minds, because college is truly a life-changing experience.