Category: Academics, Student Experience

Title: Asking Georgetown Sophomores Why They Chose Their Majors

Author: Ashley Jeong (H'26)
Date Published: March 20, 2024

Sophomore year is an important time in your college career. It’s a time when students continue to explore new fields and classes that interest them while at the same time narrowing their academic focus as they must soon declare their majors.

As a current sophomore in the School of Health, I am majoring in healthcare management and policy because of my interest in learning about the complexities of the healthcare system and my aspiration to help improve the quality and access of care for more individuals. I was undecided in the College during my freshman year, and I transferred into the School of Health last semester, my sophomore fall. Although it was scary to not know what I wanted to study right away, I knew that it was okay to take freshman year (or even longer) to explore and really think about what I was most interested in. I’m just happy to have eventually discovered my passion for this major, and currently, I am enjoying my classes, especially as they are becoming more specialized for my major. In classes like Politics of Healthcare and Healthcare in America, I am able to really expand my knowledge of the healthcare industry, one that I hope to enter after college, and also get a lot of my own questions answered. 

If you’re curious about what other current sophomores are studying, I went around Georgetown to ask sophomores from different schools about their majors, why they chose it and what they think about their field of study so far two years into their careers at Georgetown.

Angelina Cheung (B’26), Finance and Operations and Analytics Photo of Angelina Cheung in front of a citscape

I am studying finance and operations and analytics (OPAN)! I chose to study finance because my parents owned a small business when I was younger, so I have always been super fascinated by the financial decisions and strategies that other businesses and companies would pursue to find success. I only recently decided to add on the OPAN major after speaking with fellow Georgetown students. From speaking with my peers, they really emphasized the great technical foundation the major provides, so I am excited to gain broader analytical and quantitative skills. 

I have enjoyed both majors so far! I am currently taking my first major course for both majors: Machine Learning for Finance and Decision Support Systems for OPAN. Both classes involve coding, so it has been interesting to note the classes’ differing applications. Although I just started taking required classes for my major, I am most excited about my major elective courses! I am interested in a career in asset management, so I am excited to eventually take courses in private equity and venture capital. 

Photo of John Chow in a roomJohn Chow (H’26), Global Health

In early January of 2022, my decision to apply as a global health major hinged on little more than my wanting to spend a semester abroad — which the senior year experiential learning component of the program promised. And while I am still eager to pursue critically applied research abroad, between the diversity of coursework, career experience of the faculty, and proximity to major global health actors, I have come to appreciate my major more thoroughly. The global health major is uniquely positioned to dismantle disciplinary walls and geographic boundaries in service of civic-minded, holistic and culturally situated engagements with health at local and global scales.

 My global health classes have struck me as distinctly specialized to an extent infrequently encountered in undergrad. While only a sophomore, I have already taken classes titled Comparative Health Systems and Policies and Maternal and Child Health in Developing Countries, and covered topics ranging from neglected tropical diseases to intersectional health determinants to how air pollution impacts mental health to syndemic disease interaction to communication crises in pandemic responses and so much more. Additionally, being in the School of Health means small classes and close connections with professors and peers, without compromising on the rest of what Georgetown has to offer.

Priscilla Kim (SFS’26), Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) Photo of Priscilla Kim on a busy street

My major is science, technology, and international affairs (STIA), and I chose it because I’m interested in how science and technology-informed policy solutions can solve the most pressing challenges facing the world today, specifically in the sustainable development space. Coming from the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley, I initially came to Georgetown wanting to escape my hometown’s cultural emphasis on STEM and computer science by going to school in the nation’s political center. However, I’ve realized that there is a glaring lack of tech policy right now, and ethical applications of AI is a void that needs filling, especially with its growing influence on global societies worldwide.

I love my major. Each faculty member is super inspirational, and the topics we discuss in class and at guest lecture events — from tech and AI regulation to climate modeling and nuclear weapons and energy — are the topics that are on my mind 24/7, keep me up at night, and that I discuss with my peers and friends outside of class. One of my favorite classes so far has been Reimagining Tech in Africa, where we discuss technological advancements across the continent of Africa, questions like what is the right balance of public-private responsibility for technology use, and the role of multinational tech companies in mining and exploitation in African nations like Congo. As someone who wants to use technology to help development initiatives in developing contexts such as Africa, this class was perfect for me.

Photo of Madeline Ott Madeleine Ott (C’26), German

I recently declared as a German major in the College of Arts & Sciences. Coming into Georgetown completely undecided, I spent my first three semesters taking a whole range of courses, from sociology to linguistics to biology, hoping that one of them would stick. During the spring semester of my freshman year, I decided on a whim to take a German class since I grew up learning to speak it at home with my mom and grandparents, and my high school never offered it as a language. It ended up being my favorite class of the semester, and it resonated with me so much that I decided to spend a month in Germany over the summer, visiting various family and family friends in different parts of the country. After coming back from that trip, the idea of majoring in German felt like something I could actually picture for myself and something I would truly enjoy, which was one of the most important factors in my decision.

I’ve enjoyed every class in my major so far (fingers crossed). Last semester, I took a German literature class about the portrayal of love in German texts and films throughout different historical periods, which was definitely challenging but helped me improve so much as a writer and reader. Something that I really like about the German major in general is the flexibility in the course of study; aside from a couple of required classes, I get to choose the rest of my courses to fill out the major, which lets me both lean into areas that especially interest me and explore new ones. I’m also really looking forward to studying abroad in Germany this summer with other Georgetown students and getting to immerse myself in the culture again. 

Photo of Diane KimDiane Kim (C’26), Computer Science

I’m a computer science major who came into college declared. I bit the bullet and taught myself to code over the pandemic, and a few years later I’m still going strong. Maybe it’s because I always like to keep my options open, but more than anything, I love how universally applicable computer science is in today’s world. There’s no field or interest you can’t contribute to with a creative use of code, and I’m still getting a kick out of exploring the sheer possibilities out there. 

I’d say I had pretty realistic expectations about how challenging or time-consuming it would be coming into college, and nothing’s been a complete surprise yet. I’ve been really impressed, however, with the huge effort the students have made in creating tech clubs specifically designed to fill the gap between our academics and the industries we’re hoping to build careers in. It’s no secret that Georgetown’s computer science program is on the smaller side, but it’s created opportunities for students to stand out and take initiative in creating an impressive, tight-knit community.

Ashley Jeong (H’26) is a typical sophomore who finds joy in her friends, curiosities and excitements.  Most of all, she is looking forward to all that is to come!