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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

You Know We’re Right: First-year freakout!

Published: January 26, 2012
Section: Features

Dear Leah and Morgan,

I am a second-semester first-year and I have no idea what I am going to study at Brandeis. This past fall, I took my UWS and three other classes that interested me.

I intentionally didn’t focus my classes in any one area, hoping that studying a variety of things would help me to decide what I am passionate about. Unfortunately, my plan worked.

My four classes in the fall definitely helped me to figure out what I’m interested in—they were all awesome! After falling in love with so many topics, I can’t bring myself to settle upon one subject (or even three) on which to focus.

I am currently enrolled in five classes this semester—one for each of the majors and minors that I plan to pursue. I am afraid that if I take five classes this semester, the work will be too much. I don’t, however, want to fall behind on any of my concentrations—or miss out on any of the cool stuff that I could be learning. I just feel like I have way too many interests and no way of focusing them into anything conclusive.

Before you cut me off with reassurances that I don’t need to worry about it now and promises that I have plenty of time to decide, please understand that I have heard it before.

While I understand that I have my entire college career in front of me, I want to have this figured out now!

Please respond quickly, as I would like to have all of my major and minor declaration forms in by the end of this week.

-Frantic First-year


Dear Frantic,

Before you read any of our expert advice about class planning and all of that good stuff, it is important that you do one thing: TAKE A DEEP BREATH.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of deciding and declaring majors and minors. Unfortunately, this excitement usually turns into stress. Luckily for you, we have come up with a few strategies to stay cool and stress-free in the future!

Talk to someone at Academic Services

While we can see that this column is your primary source of all life advising, it’s important to remember that there is a whole office on campus, filled with people who answer questions like yours for a living.

Head over to the Academic Services office (130 Usdan) on any weekday morning before class. There, you can sign up for a drop-in appointment (1 to 5 p.m. on weekdays) with any of the advisers.

The Academic Services staff will answer your questions about requirements, cross-listing, major selection and pretty much everything else about academic life at Brandeis. They are friendly, informed and will ultimately help you to …

Keep perspective!

It is definitely important to be focused and organized when choosing your classes for each semester.

Unfortunately, this can (and often does) go too far.

Obsessing over what classes to take and what they count for, can take away from your focus on the classes themselves.

You will never know what you want to study if you devote lecture time to class searching and schedule perfecting.You could probably figure out how successfully to complete three majors, five internships and an honors thesis by taking six classes at a time for seven consecutive semesters and only sleeping on Wednesdays. You probably won’t realize, however, that you’re sitting in a classroom with the adviser of one of your (many) majors or hearing the lecture introducing the topic of your thesis.

Chill out, Hermione.

Time turners haven’t been invented yet and if you don’t take a breather, you will end up in the hospital wing!

We know that you don’t want to be told that you have your entire college career to figure out your majors and minors, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.

Peace, love and good advice!

Leah and Morgan


Have questions that you want answered by the lovely ladies of The Hoot? Submit your questions to or at! —Leah Finkelman ’13, Production Editor, and Morgan Gross ’14, Impressions Editor. We’re so excited to hear your questions!