You mean I’ll have to pick a major?

Filed in From the Staff, Life at WPI by on October 9, 2017

Like a lot of students, I applied to WPI as “engineering undecided.” In high school I enjoyed math and science classes and was pretty sure I wanted to major in a STEM field, but didn’t know much at all about the different disciplines of engineering. In my junior year I had done well in calculus and chemistry, but I also really liked the stats class I took senior year so in the Class of 2020 accepted students Facebook group, I posted about how I wanted to major in “probably chemical engineering, or some branch of math.”

During NSO, I realized I would actually have to pick a major at some point (it’s a scary revelation, if you’ve ever had it). On day one of A term, I was registered for a rigorous analytical calculus class for math majors. By day two of A term, I decided I didn’t want to be a math major and switched into a regular section of calculus. In B term, I took Discovering Majors and Careers, and figured that rocket science seemed pretty cool so I settled on aerospace engineering. After two terms of aerospace coursework, I decided I wanted something with more project work and switched my major to robotics. Given my track record, it’s entirely likely I’ll end up making another switch at some point in my WPI career.

In addition to a lot of time spent on bannerweb, there are a couple of valuable lessons I’ve learned while figuring out my major.

  • If you take a class and you don’t like it, it isn’t a waste of time. Knowing what you don’t like is just as valuable as knowing what you do.
  • Get to know the advising resources on campus! The CDC’s career counsellors (and Peer Advisors), the office of Academic Advising, and your faculty or insight advisor are incredible resources to help figure out what you want to do.
  • If you’re nervous to switch majors because you’re worried you won’t be on track to graduate on time; don’t be. I’ve heard stories of students switching as late as junior year and still finishing within four years.
  • Your major doesn’t have to define what you do after school. Finding a job is all about the skills you’ve acquired and how you market them, which can be related to your major or not.

If you’re unsure of your major and looking for a place to start, here are a few things I did that helped me figure out what I want to do.

  • If you haven’t taken it or aren’t already registered, take Discovering Majors and Careers for B term. The class offers a overview of every major at WPI and gets you familiar with a lot of helpful academic/career resources on campus.
  • Schedule a Choosing/Changing a Major or Career Advising appointment with the CDC  to talk about your academic or career interests/goals. (Scheduled through Handshake)
  • Schedule an Academic Coaching appointment with the Office of Academic Advising to talk about course selection, scheduling, and degree requirements. (scheduled through TutorTrac)

I hope this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to email the Peer Advisors at



About the Author ()

I'm a sophomore double majoring in Robotics Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from Plymouth, MA. As a Peer Advisor for the Career Development Center, I'm excited to use my experiences to help others throughout the major selection/career search processes. On campus I'm also involved in Engineers Without Borders, Crimson Key, and Running Club. Outside of school, I enjoy playing guitar, hiking, and following baseball.

Comments (6)

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  1. jrlocke says:

    Wow this was very helpful and informative! Thanks Van!

  2. jrlocke says:

    Wow this was very helpful and informative! Thanks Van!

  3. Van Harting says:

    Wow this comment was very helpful and informative! Thanks Jess!

  4. Van Harting says:

    Wow this comment was very helpful and informative! Thanks Jess!

  5. Lauren Farris says:

    Great Article Van! Glad you took DMC!

  6. Van Harting says:

    Great comment Lauren! Glad you took DMC!