Samantha Montag, class of 2014, Biological Science major with adjunct major in Science in Human Culture
> As a freshman, I thought I knew how my life would unfold. I would complete my four years here at Northwestern to go on to graduate from a great medical school, after which I would settle down to start a family. I would have never believed anyone who told me that I might do better or even be happier [gasp!] in another field. Life, however, had other plans for my future. I can identify with the large numbers who change their majors from science fields to something else, as Christopher Drew describes in his 2011 New York Times article "Why science majors change their minds (It’s just so darn hard).”
It is not just that science courses are difficult – all courses are difficult in their own way – but rather that science courses move at an intense pace with great amounts of pressure (specifically that this one grade could ‘ruin’ one’s future endeavors). Science lectures often do not stop for students to ask questions or express confusion about the explanation given.
Another factor is that students entering college may have poor conceptions of what a scientific profession entails. I personally felt disappointed that real biological experiments often do not have the immediate, solid conclusions that high school–level biological experiments exhibited. A researcher can work their whole life on a question and never know the solution, because the technology to solve it does not exist, or because the foundation on which they are approaching the problem is part of an old, inadequate paradigm.
I know that while I enjoy science and have a scientific curiosity, I am more likely suited for an interdisciplinary field where the curiosity that motivated me to be a biology major can be complemented by my interests in other fields like statistics and history.
Back to Undergraduate Voices