How I Chose My Major: Peer Advising Intern Tamar Stollman

Still exploring majors? Thinking about adding a major or switching from one to another?

Senior Tamar Stollman, a Peer Advising Intern in the SBS Pathways Center, tells us about the path she took:

Beginning my senior year at UMass, I am wondering how I got to this point, where I only need two more classes in order to graduate with a dual degree in political science/BDIC and a minor in Spanish. As much of an accomplishment as this is, it took me a long time to figure out what I really wanted to study in college.

I entered the university in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) with a major in political science. I knew that I cared about international relations, global studies, and public policy, so UMass’ department in political science seemed like a good fit for me. I would be able to apply study abroad and language credit to the major, take interesting classes in American and world politics, and meet like-minded people. After my first year in the major, I didn’t feel completely fulfilled. There were so many classes in other departments that I was interested in and wasn’t sure how to fit it all into my political science major. I talked to my friends in the major as well as upperclassmen about how they were making the most of their political science major. Like myself, a lot of students were interested in international relations and were trying to pursue the international relations certificate—a program that allows students to take classes in a variety of majors and through the five college consortium. Another friend of mine was working towards the public policy certificate, while others were double majoring in economics or history. Although all of those options sounded really exciting to me, I wanted to make the most of my time at UMass and pursue another major, but I didn’t want to be tied down by one department, like how I felt with political science.

That is when I found out about the Bachelor’s Degree with an Individual Concentration (BDIC) program. I applied to take the proposal class in the Spring of my freshman year and got accepted into the program. The application was fairly simple and non-competitive. My individual concentration combines my interests in studying culture, economics, politics, history, and language and is called “International Relations from a Global Perspective”. The following semester, I took a proposal class where I got to design my curriculum and think critically about what I really care about and the types of classes I wanted to take. While my original curriculum has changed overtime, I was able to take 12 classes in 7 departments, in addition to (almost) completing my political science major, and hone in on my academic interests while exploring other departments and meeting lots of professors and students from all over the university.

If you are interested in exploring BDIC, visit their website here to learn more about how to get started and learn about what other students have done their concentrations in. Come visit me in the Pathways Center (Thompson 128) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-11 and on Tuesdays from 2-4 if you want to learn more or have any questions about my academic path. I’d love to hear about your ideas too!

By Tamar Stollman
Tamar Stollman Peer Advising Intern