As a Physiological Science major and Global Health minor, UCLA junior Patricia Macalalag has a unique perspective on the worries of students and faculty in such a densely populated campus and city. Hear her thoughts on the rapid changes to teaching and learning, and how her areas of study shape her concerns during this current upheaval in education and society.
What is happening on your campus and how has that affected you?
In high school, I absolutely dreaded taking physics. Something about the subject was just so scary! But after I graduated, I ended up taking an introductory physics course over the summer at a local community college to make my college applications more competitive. The class was the bare minimum; it was purely conceptual, with absolutely zero math. I thought this would make it easier, but I still didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. I was convinced that I was just incapable of succeeding within the subject. That all changed when I encountered Pearson’s Mastering Physics.
Once I got accepted to UCLA, I found that a 3-course physics series was a requirement for completion of my Physiological Science degree. Not to mention, physics is required for medical school, and I have always dreamed of becoming a doctor. I realized I could no longer avoid it! My fear was fueled by the horrible reviews about our physics courses, and being surrounded by my incredibly intelligent peers only raised my worries.
Focusing on features
But, as it turned out, I was blessed with an amazing professor and class for the first course in the series. I took Physics 5A in the Spring and my professor created an incredible learning environment, which included Pearson’s Mastering Physics. This online program contains features that are a huge credit to why I did so well, like the interactive textbook and homework problems that actually explained the solutions.
My favorite features are the videos and quizzes embedded into the textbook chapters because they help reinforce my learning! I love being able to check whether or not I actually understand a concept as I’m learning and taking notes. Additionally, in a class with about 150 students it was difficult to get one-on-one time with my professor whenever I had questions about concepts or the homework, but with Mastering Physics I was often able to figure things out for myself.
Finding a comfort level
This past Fall quarter for my second physics course, I actually relied on Mastering Physics more than my professor for the first 5 weeks of the course. For the first time in my life, I feel comfortable with the subject and will 100% use it next quarter in my final physics class ever. I know some of you may have the same fears and worries about taking physics that I had, so I definitely recommend exploring Pearson’s Mastering Physics to supplement and enhance your learning!
Choosing a major is one of the most exciting things about college. Students finally have the freedom to study what they’re interested in, as opposed to following the fixed curriculum set in high school. Some people find their perfect major right away, while others like me were plagued with indecision. Personally, I am interested in learning almost anything and could see myself in a variety of careers. So I was torn between STEM and the Humanities.
My track record goes like this – Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG) to Political Science to Human Biology and Society back to Political Science to MIMG again and finally, Physiological Science.
As you can see, I eventually figured out that I wanted to pursue an education in STEM. However, I struggled in the beginning and changed my mind a lot. Most college students change their majors only one to two times, or maybe even not at all. But, if you’re in the same situation I was in, don’t worry; some of us just take a little more time than others.
The most important thing to remember is that it is totally OK to switch your major and know that many students do. Realizing that you might not like something as much as you thought you did is normal. I attend UCLA and we have over 125 different majors. There are so many options out there–subjects that you haven’t even heard of or considered, but realized you liked after being exposed to them. And even if you don’t find something you like, many universities offer Interdisciplinary majors, which is basically a way to customize your own major. It’s not the end of the world if you end up disliking your initial major.
In my opinion, there are two major reasons why you might consider switching your major: 1) you’re drawn to other subjects or 2) your grades are suffering (or not as good as you believe they could be). If you relate to this or you have another reason for switching, don’t forget to consider how much time you have left to complete major requirements.
If you’re a first year, you have plenty of time to explore other areas of studies. If you’re a third or fourth year, however, keep in mind that you’ll have to consider whether your credits from other classes could transfer or count. And when in doubt, talk to your counselors, they are always a resource! Stressing yourself out throughout the whole process will do no good. Take time to examine all your options and make the decision that’s right for you.