Friday, April 4, 2014

Why I love my major

I love my major, and I just came to that realization—four semesters into my college experience.  Before applying to college, I remember looking at the various types of engineering I could study at the range of schools to which I would apply.  Materials Science Engineering seemed like the perfect balance of math and chemistry (with absolutely no biology, fortunately for me).  And so, I applied to Penn as a declared Materials Science Engineering student.  Even with that designation, I had truly no clue what MSE was like when I entered my freshman year of college.  

Since there are no core materials science courses to take until sophomore fall, my choice of major never had the opportunity to be validated freshman year.  So, I stuck with my MSE major declaration even though I had no idea if I liked it or not.  Even in the fall, when I began taking two MSE classes, I enjoyed one of them and disliked the other.  I still wasn’t sure if materials science could be my future and my career path, potentially for life.
Then this semester arrived.  Commonly known throughout the MSE undergraduate department as the “hardest semester you’ll face in MSE”, this semester has truly been a struggle.  Late nights working on problem sets, writing lab reports upwards of 40 pages, and studying for challenging midterms have filled a majority of my semester.  Constantly working so hard distracted me from the realization that I truly love what I’m studying.  This past week I finally realized how much I love MSE.  I was taking my second midterm in a materials class notorious for its challenging material when, mid-test, I stopped to think through a problem and found myself actually enjoying the process.  I had been so busy this semester I never really paused to consider my feelings toward the subject and my major overall.  What I realized is, I love MSE.  I love my classmates, I love my professors, and I love the material I’m studying.  Sure, MSE requires a lot of work and may result in a few near-sleepless nights, but what major doesn’t challenge its students in that respect at some point? Though overwhelming, these challenges have brought me so much closer to my 25 classmates and have united us as a class.  The concepts I’m mastering and the friendships I’m making with these classmates are lasting, and I wouldn’t change my major for the world.         

Kristen is a sophomore in Materials Science and Engineering.  Questions for Kristen?  contact her at

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