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Becoming a STEM person?

Emma explains how a lot of Carleton students will change their minds about a major at some point.

Emma explains how a lot of Carleton students will change their minds about a major at some point.

Now this is what is beautiful about the liberal arts education

Don’t always trust what you think you’ll major in. Especially at Carleton.

For the majority of my high school career, I was very set on majoring in English. I thought that, sure, since this is what I have always been decently good at, then that’s that! It’s set. Now that must be my college major! 

If you were to tell potential English major Emma that she would most likely be pursuing a Cognitive Science major and a Neuroscience minor, she would have laughed. Science has never been my thing. It’s always been strictly humanities. 

The major shift.

My shift started in winter term. I was taking Biology (BIOL 125) and Psychology (PSYC 110). And yes, as cheesy as it sounds, I really started to fall in love with the sciences. I did love and learned so much from my third class, Gender Studies (GWSS 110), but the sciences challenged my humanities-conditioned brain in fresh, new ways.

I was terrified of Biology at the start of the term. But after a few weeks, I became so excited to hear DNA replication lectures (my favorite unit) and analyze fly larvae we harvested from the Arb in our lab. 

bio lab
Pipettes in the bio lab!

The best part? Skills and interests in other fields never go to waste at Carleton. Rather, they always compliment the work you are doing. People (or maybe this was just me) really underestimate how much writing there actually is in the sciences. So my liking for writing actually really helped me a lot during the lab report paper at the end of the term. No matter what field or major you pursue, having those extra skills and interests will always help you. 

Moral of the Story?

You’re not going to Carleton to declare. You are going to Carleton to learn a whole lot about the world (or beyond, @Astronomy majors!).  

Yes, it’s great to go into college having an idea of what you might want to major in. But the beauty of going to Carleton is that whatever it is, it will probably shift in some way. I’d say way more than half of the people I’ve met here have completely changed what they thought they would major in. The trick is to open yourself up to learning and mistakes, and not feel so set in one path without exploring. Just embrace the liberal arts education! 

Don’t believe the shift could happen to you? 

Here is a list of what some people thought they would major in → to what they’re actually majoring in at Carleton!*   

  • Ronnie Ross ‘26: prospective Chemistry major → to a prospective Studio Art major?? → to a Religion major (Ronnie is also Pre-Med)! 


  • Kate Ng ‘25: prospective History major → to “have not taken a single history class” and an English major! 



  • Thea Zimmerman ‘26: “dead set” on Biology → “definitely” a Psychology major!





  • Jackie Harris ‘26: prospective Physics major → to a Geology major! 






  • Jonathan Nguyen ’25: prospective Biology major → to a Biology and Cinema & Media Studies double major! 

* And yes, all names marked with ‘26 are still subject to change! 

These names were collected from me just asking around one random Sunday afternoon. But most likely close to every person you will meet at Carleton would have changed their mind about their major at some point. Happy liberal arts-ing!



Emma (she/her) is a first-year student from South Florida. She is interested in Cognitive Science, Psychology, and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies. Emma is a member of TRIO and also works as an Event Manager at the Weitz. When not in class, she enjoys going to the Rec, riding her bike around campus, and drinking coffee.