The Magic of the Liberal Arts: How Being Indecisive Helped Me Find My Major | St. Lawrence University

The Magic of the Liberal Arts: How Being Indecisive Helped Me Find My Major

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

If my friends and family were asked, “What word best describes Sally?”, without an ounce of hesitation the answer would be, “Indecisive." Whether it’s picking a place to eat, a show to watch, or a simple yes-or-no question, I always require a significant amount of time to weigh my options. After that, I'll still change my answer two or three times before landing on the one I’m confident in. At the very least, this characteristic of mine is an inconvenience. However, once I got to St. Lawrence University, the attitude around my indecisiveness changed.

I had always loved the sciences during my high school years and felt passionate about politics, landing me in Biology 101 and Comparative Politics my first semester. I felt strongly about taking courses that I was really excited about, so I was critical. I realized that I enjoyed the environmental aspects of biology the most, so I registered for an Environmental FYS and another government course. I enjoyed all of my classes, but I started thinking about how I had always considered myself a “natural science girl” and hadn’t given other courses a real chance. So, I took a leap of faith and registered for Economics 100, and German 103 for my sophomore fall. It was a big change, but turned out to be the best possible move for me.

I was automatically drawn to economics. I was incredibly excited about the real-world application within the class, and my German skills from grade school came back as if I hadn’t taken any time off! My economics professor, Cynthia Bansak, pushed me to work harder and had high expectations for me, while also being as supportive as possible. My German professor, Brook Henkel, made sure I felt comfortable as I reentered the foreign language world. I loved what I was learning, but the pressure started to set in with major declarations due only a few months later.

At this point, most of my friends seemed to have their majors and minors decided, and I started to panic. I loved what I was learning, but I was just starting out. I thought to myself, “Isn’t it too late to start the requirements for an economics major as a sophomore?” and “Getting comfortable with a second language is so exciting, but how do I fit that into my declaration?” But Professors Bansak and Henkel talked some sense into me. They helped me realize that St. Lawrence puts off major declaration until February of sophomore year for this exact reason, giving students the opportunity to explore their interests and diversify their academic experiences to eventually find the courses that they love.

Thanks to Professor Bansak and Professor Henkel, now my academic advisors, I was able to confidently declare a combined International Economics and German major, without worrying about being behind where I “should be." My indecisiveness led me down a path I can continuously feel passionate and excited about, and St. Lawrence allowed me to get there at my own pace.