Below is a guest post by Luke Bonomo, ’15. Please email OUS if you’d like to tell your own story about choosing a major.
Hello everyone. My name is Luke Bonomo. Currently I am a sophomore undeclared College of Liberal Arts and Sciences major from Massapequa, New York who is leaning toward majoring in either Computer Science or Mathematics.
So far, the story of my college major has been a wild, complicated rollercoaster ride that has only recently started to calm down. I entered Villanova as a Biology/Pre-Medical major with the intent of going to medical school after graduation. I decided that I would pursue a career in medicine while I was a sophomore in high school. I was somewhat interested in the human body and medical sciences and liked the idea of being able to have a tremendous impact on the lives of others while also having an extremely secure and high paying job. At the time, it seemed perfect. Reality, however, soon set in. After spending my entire freshman year in pre-health classes (General Biology, Chemistry, etc…), I realized that this was not the field for me. I was not the slightest bit interested in any of these subjects. In fact, I dreaded learning about them. I realized it was time for a change.
For the last few months of my freshman year, I thought constantly about other majors. Not a day went by where I didn’t spend at least an hour on the computer reading about other careers. During this time, I was able to single out a few interests. First and foremost, math had always been my best subject. Since I loved solving problems and working with numbers, math ranked high on my list of potential majors. I also seriously thought about pursuing a degree in education, in addition to math. I taught religious education while I was in high school and absolutely loved it. I could certainly see myself continuing down this path and teaching at a high school. Finally, I strongly considered computer science. Like my father, who was a computer science major when he attended Columbia, I have always been fascinated with computers and technology. Even though I had many important decisions to make in the future, I was happy at that time to have a basic idea of what step to take next.
In the mean time, however, I was encouraged by my parents, among others, to apply to transfer into the School of Business. Since the application was not binding (I could apply and decline if accepted), they believed that there was no harm in submitting the application. They also believed that the business school would be perfect for someone like me who had absolutely no idea what to do with his life. After all, I’d receive a great education and would be able to graduate with a (probably well paying) job. I saw no flaw in their argument, so that’s exactly what I did. I applied in April 2012 and waited to hear back. Sure enough, I received an email in May saying that I had been one of the very few students who was admitted as an internal transfer.
I was faced with a difficult decision. On the one hand, I knew where my interests lay. I knew that I was passionate about mathematics, about solving problems, about computer science, etc… and knew that I was not very interested in business. On the other hand, I was given an opportunity that many would have jumped at. I started to convince myself that I needed to transfer, that I wouldn’t get a job, or be as happy, if I didn’t. More importantly, I started to wonder what others would think if I turned down the School of Business. They’d certainly be disappointed and probably would think that I was crazy. Even though I knew that my interests lay elsewhere, I felt that transferring was the only option I had. So, I accepted the invitation and guess what? I was miserable. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted, but I did it anyway because I felt like I had to. Had I talked to someone back in May, I certainly wouldn’t have made the same decision. Instead, I kept to myself and did what I felt like I had to do.
I didn’t feel any better as the months went by, so again I realized it was time for a change. It took a lot of courage for me to transfer back into the College of Liberal of Arts and Sciences. People would certainly think that I was crazy now! However, I knew that the move was necessary. I knew that I needed to pursue my academic interests because, in the end, nothing else would be satisfying. It might entail cramming courses into my schedule over the next two years and taking summer classes, but at least I’d be happy. So here I am a few months later, as a future Math or Computer Science Major, writing about this decision in order to convey one simple message: don’t settle for anything. Follow your passions, do what’s best for you, and everything else will fall into place.