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Major Advice from Upper-Level Students and Alumni

Finding out how upper-level students made their decision to choose a major can be a great source of inspiration and guidance. There are also tools, programs, and experts at the ready. If that’s not enough, dive into the data.

Consider that nearly 20 percent of MIT seniors said that, if they could start over again, they would have considered a different major (2018 Senior Survey) and that only around 30% of alumni report working in a field/role related to their major 10+ years out.

No pressure! The goal here is to give you some starting points to explore what’s possible.


Axes of Confusion (Admissions Blog)

“We have a lot of ideas for who we want to become. We can see ourselves being storyboarders or visual development artist or animators or writers. But we can also imagine doing something more technical, in a studio whose artistic vision and ethos we trust, being equally rewarding. We’d know we are contributing to making a beautiful and useful story come to life, and that will be enough.”

Things work out (follow up to “Axes of Confusion”)

“We feel really happy in our major this semester. We’ve found balance in two levels that previous semesters didn’t strike: work/life balance and creative/technical balance. We’re busy, but not over-worked most weeks, and we’re thinking artistically, while making technically. Our first five semesters here were weighed much more heavily on work than on life and on the technical than on creative. And that’s why we were so confused this past summer. It took a long time to get here and it was far from easy, but we’re so happy we made it.”

Choosing a Major (Admissions Blog)

“Your  interests may change, especially as you get deeper into a field, you may find it not at all what you were expecting (this happens all the time, I can’t even stress that enough), you can develop interests in things you never thought possible: sometimes this is out of necessity, sometimes just because every subject in its own right is interesting (or else you wouldn’t have organic chemists) and you just needed some time to really get into it…”

“So, what are you majoring in?” (Admissions Blog)

“The thing I find most comforting through all of this is that in talking to a range of people, almost everyone seems to have something generally positive to say about their major. Faces light up when you ask about UROPs, and if you’re lucky, you might get the passionate ramblings that end with “sorry, I’m rambling, I’m just really excited about so-and-so.”

As if course numbers weren’t enough: Learning your A, B, Cs, and OEs

“Once you get here, though, you’re forced to dip your spoon in and search for the right letter (or combination of letters) that suits your interest. This can be a rather difficult task that my fellow bloggers have covered extensively. I’ve compiled some of the links at the bottom of this entry, and rest assured that almost everyone ends up switching majors or minors at some point.”

On being open to switching (Admissions Blog)

“The problem was that I never really engaged in my education during high school. Yet you get to college and you are presented with this wonderfully elusive thing, choice, and it’s a little tricky to know what to do with it. Especially since for all the rest of your education, you have suppressed your inner Simon Cowell; you have learned to learn and love everything, and it is absolutely possible to have too many choices.”

Read more in Profiles and Blog Posts by Course.