This week, junior Emma Bryan talks about how the flexibility of the Arts and Sciences curriculum helped her discover her passion for French and reconfirm her interest in Economics, setting her up for an exciting junior year.
By: Emma Bryan ’19, French and Economics double major
Here I am ready to start my junior year while picking apples that are fortuitously ready today with friends at Indian Creek Farm!
After spending the summer in Ithaca, August finally rolled around, and I couldn’t wait for people to come back to campus so that I could start my junior year with my peers by my side. Ithaca in the summer is amazing, but there aren’t as many people as there are during the year, and I was ready for campus to become livelier. There were many aspects of life at Cornell that I was eager to resume—eating Cornell Dairy ice cream, enjoying bubble tea with my friends in Collegetown, marveling at how the song on the clock tower always seems to fit my exact mood—but above all else, I was ready to dive back into a year of academic challenges and the pursuit of further knowledge in my second-to-last year at this esteemed university.
For my first two years in the College of Arts and Sciences, I had no set plan of what I wanted to accomplish academically. Freshman year, I came to campus saying that I was going to double major in Computer Science and Economics; however, I took CS1110 (Introduction to Python) and quickly realized that my home at this large university was not going to be in the Department of Computer Science. At the same time, I took a French class to satisfy the language requirement, and I was so intrigued by FREN2320 (Introduction to Francophone Culture and Film) that I decided to veer off of my more computational path and dabble in the Romance Studies Department. I continued taking French courses, and two years later, here I am with a declared French major. First semester freshman me wasn’t completely wrong though! The interest in Economics stuck, and after passing all of the required major core classes and realizing that I truly am passionate about Economics, I refuse to let go of that half of my initial plan.
Though my first two years of academic exploration were a blast, it is so comforting to now come back to campus and have a clearer path and individual major advisors who are able to give me guidance as I navigate my final years at this university. I remember picking courses as a freshman the summer before I came to campus, and I’d be lying if I said the process wasn’t a bit overwhelming. I felt as though I were blindly choosing classes, knowing that there were over two thousand courses offered every semester and I was going to be taking only four or five of them. What if I chose the wrong courses? What if I didn’t know what I wanted to study? What if I wasted my time taking classes that had nothing to do with my ultimate path? To put it bluntly, in the kindest way possible, the answer to each of those questions is a simple, “it doesn’t matter.”
This is a picture of me enjoying Ithaca in the summer! I took a hike with some pals at Buttermilk Falls State Park.
First, there’s an add-drop period built into the beginning of the school year, so if you decide that the classes that you signed up for are absolutely not what you’re interested in taking, you’re able to drop those classes and add others. Additionally, if you’re interested in a class but do not foresee it being something that you’re going to major in, you have the option to take it S/U (satisfactory/unsatisfactory) so that so long as you pass the class, the credits count, and the overall grade will not factor into your GPA. After realizing that Python was not for me, I switched it to S/U, which took a lot of pressure off, and I was able to enjoy learning for the sake of learning rather than worrying about my GPA.
What I love about Arts is the fact that cross-field curiosity is encouraged, and earlier in my college career, I took advantage of this by taking classes that have nothing to do with my majors, which assured me that I am confident in the direction I have since chosen. You are not required to declare your major until second semester of your sophomore year, and after that, it is very possible to change majors. I’ve taken a wide range of classes in other departments, such as Government, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Cognitive Science, yet I’ve made enough progress on both of my majors to potentially graduate early. Now that I have a set path, I find myself increasingly excited to choose my classes, and as I have grown and spent more time on this campus, I feel that I have really gotten the hang of things.