Classes, Student Life, Study

How to Choose Your Programs(?)

Picture of Avneet in front of TV showing High School Musical

Me, attempting to channel Sharpay Evans from High School Musical. Clearly, I was meant to be a Cinema Studies major.

Before getting to U of T, I knew that I wanted to major in English. It was pretty much set in stone the moment my grade eleven English teacher handed me back my essay on Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I got a 100% on the essay and my teacher said, “Don’t become a teacher. You should become a professor.”

The thought of studying literature and entering that world of academia was exhilarating. The other motivation came from a fictional character: Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls, a show that I have quoted (and will continue to quote) constantly in these blog posts. Rory informed my interest in academia and literature greatly.

Upon arrival at U of T, I settled on a double-major in English and Cinema Studies. I decided on Cinema Studies because I had a friend from high school who was taking Cinema Studies and she recommended it to me. Upon reviewing course calendars, I realized that I was excited reading course descriptions for the upper-year Cinema Studies courses.

An age-old tale is that most students change their programs after their first year. This isn’t untrue. It’s also nothing to worry about, since it’s more important to explore your options and find the programs that work best for you rather than sticking with ones that you don’t good about.

I decided to change one of my programs at the end of my first year for the most understandable yet mindblowingly stupid reason: I was interested in a guy romantically and needed an excuse to talk to him. He was majoring in Book & Media Studies, so I took the opportunity to talk to him about the program. Of course, I realized that I would probably enjoy Book & Media Studies, so I switched out of that Cinema Studies major.

English and Book & Media Studies. This seemed like a good combination of my interests. Who needs a Cinema Studies degree, anyway? I did pretty well in my Media Studies course. I would have never predicted that during my time at U of T, I would be writing an essay on The X-Files, but here we were.

And then I changed my programs again after something even more ridiculous: a tarot card reading. My sister has been channeling Victoria Beckham and getting into keeping crystals and spirituality and stuff. I was talking to her on the phone and she asked me to ask her a question so that she could practice a tarot card reading.

Without any forethought, I immediately asked, “Will I ever write for a TV show?”

In response to this question, my sister drew three cards that read “Set Your Sights Higher”, suggesting that I should expect more out of my life. But how could I set my sights higher? What goal could I have that is more ambitious than writing for a TV show? Maybe becoming a showrunner. Or writing a screenplay.

I started to think about how much a career in film and television enticed me and consequently decided to pick up my major in Cinema Studies again. Except now I have three programs that I am interested in: English, Book & Media Studies, and Cinema Studies. What should I do?

I came to my conclusion after a much more responsible and sensible decision-making process: talking to my college’s registrar, who suggested that I do a major in Cinema Studies, and a minor in English and Book & Media Studies. Afterwards, I would decide where to go from there.

Here’s what I’m trying to say: don’t worry too much about choosing programs. You should definitely be thinking about programs you would like to pursue, but don’t overthink it.

My own journey to figuring out my programs took some unexpected turns (i.e. being interested in a guy, a tarot car reading) but I’m happy with where I am. In terms of career, I feel like my programs are reflective of what I’m passionate about and would love to pursue as a career. That’s my advice: find something that you’re passionate about. After that, everything will fall in place.

And if all else fails, you can always talk to your college or faculty’s registrar.