Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Jonathan Zhi ’21

Plano, Texas • Comparative Literature View Profile

Major Dilemmas, Concentration Games and My Academic Adventures

How I decided, un-decided, then re-decided my major.

The story begins here, during...


Highschool, Senior year, Fall

I’m busy applying to colleges and I want to express my potential academic interest and potential major for the first time. What do I say? “Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering” (MAE). How did I decide that? These are some of the things I thought about:

  • I’ve done well in STEM classes throughout school.
  • I’ve been involved with engineering activities at school (i.e., robotics club).
  • Mechanical (and aerospace) engineering seems cool.
  • Plus, both my parents studied engineering.

Princeton University, First year, Fall

I’ve just selected courses for my first semester at Princeton. As an engineer, I take math, computer science and chemistry classes to satisfy prerequisites for the B.S.E. (Bachelor of Science in Engineering) degree, and a Chinese class for fun. I enjoy what I am learning.


Princeton University, First year, Spring

Now, I’m taking computer science, math, the Writing Seminar, Chinese and painting classes. I like my Writing Seminar (the topic is political theory) much more than I expected to, and it makes me wonder if I’d rather study something other than engineering. This isn’t a new thought. While I enjoy my STEM classes, I’m not sure that I really want to be an engineer. I certainly don’t seem to have the same passion for it that others (like my roommate, who’s been buying parts for the drone he’s designed) have. As an engineer, I declare my major at the end of this semester. I choose computer science (not MAE), which I’ve developed interest in. I almost switch from B.S.E. to the A.B.(Bachelor of Arts) degree to try the humanities, but back out at the last minute.


Princeton University, Sophomore year, Fall

Over the summer, I’ve decided to switch to A.B., put a hold on computer science and explore other disciplines (and potential majors). Back on campus, I make the switch and enroll in politics, religion, psychology and Chinese courses. It turns out that I like all of these courses (enjoying politics and religion immensely), but I’m still not sure about my major.


Princeton University, Sophomore year, Spring

I’ve settled on concentrating in politics, focusing on political theory. This semester, I am taking journalism, computer science (aiming to get the certificate, similar to a minor) and two political theory courses.


This is where I am at now. To keep the story short, I’ve left out some details, but this is essentially how I completely changed my major over the course of three semesters at Princeton. Who knows - maybe your journey will be even more exciting than mine!

A11y