Declaring my Major: Dread and Delight


Ellen Hu ’24

On March 29 I officially declared a double major in environmental analysis and media studies. As I dropped off my form at the registrar’s office, I couldn’t help but feel a sigh of relief — it was a moment that the past two years of my academic career had been leading up to.

After all, major declaration is something that so many colleges and universities require students to do before they even arrive. And even if it’s not required, then there’s speculation that it can contribute to a higher likelihood of acceptance by institutions during the admissions process.

Before I made my final decision to attend Scripps, I applied to several universities that required major identification. As a result, I had to start thinking about career paths that interested me and what majors would get me there while only 17 years old. Yikes.

Now I’m 20 years old, and if I’m being completely honest, I still have no idea what career I want to pursue. And let’s be even more honest: it’s difficult to admit when it feels like everyone around me has everything together and knows what they want to do.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t contributed to this culture of being “put-together” at any point. I must admit that I was fortunate enough to have had a general idea of what I wanted to pursue based on previous academic interests before entering Scripps.

Environmental science has been an area of interest for me since my freshman year of high school when I did a project on bioremediation in my biology class and found myself diving deeper into research on the natural world. Then, media studies caught my eye because I saw it as a way to extend my journalistic background. While navigating the latter half of the college admissions process, I used these interests to inform my decisions.

Yet, all of this was thrown upside down for a short time at the end of my senior year of high school when I found myself very invested in my AP United States Government and Policy course. That’s when legal studies joined my list of possible majors.

I must admit that while legal studies was one of my interests, I did not do a great job of exploring it. My path in environmental science, which I was sure I was going to pursue, required several courses that limited the number of other classes I could take in media studies and legal studies. The combination of these requirements with Core classes and GEs made it almost impossible to explore as much as I would have liked to do.

When it came down to it, I ended up choosing media studies because of the opportunities that were afforded to me in that first semester of my first year. That semester, the media studies department at Scripps was offering a one-time class called Media and the Environment which I was fortunate enough to take. It was an amazing experience and gave me the chance to see how two of my interests could go hand-in-hand.

So, I began to work my schedule around those two majors. I continued to take required classes and tried to fulfill all of the introductory courses that would be necessary for both majors and minors in these fields.

That begs the question: “Why two majors?” What’s the logic behind choosing to do more work for two different subjects when it’s possible to put more work into one while still being able to explore another, just in less depth?

The answer is simple: I’m indecisive and figure that there are a variety of interesting classes that fall into both of these majors, so I might as well get credit for them.

While all of this is a sign of relief, there’s always the impending sensation in the back of my mind that I made the wrong decision. Is it going to be too much? Will I be able to manage the course load and two theses? What if legal studies was the way to go?

The honest answer is that I won’t know until I’m in the middle of it all. It’s scary, and I’m sure that at some point it will lead to me crying myself to sleep at night, but it’s something to strive for. A goal to reach for — one that I can always adjust back down to a minor if need be.

Doubt and feelings of regret are going to be inevitable during this time. Yet, I see this as an opportunity to celebrate how far I’ve come and everything that is going to come out of the rest of my time here at Scripps. So before all of the course planning for the next two years begins, I’ll cheer myself on for this accomplishment.

Image Source: Ellen Hu ’24

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