I knew I wanted to study film since I was in middle school. But while film has always been where I channel my passion for storytelling, it isn’t for everyone. My parents (both engineers) never pressured me to go into a STEM field, but they’ve always thought my Radio/TV/Film major was unusual. Little did I know just how “unusual” my academic pursuits at Northwestern would end up looking along the way.
As an incoming first-year student, I vaguely understood that the quarter system was going to allow me to take more classes and explore more topics than a semester system would. I also knew that a lot of Northwestern students pursued more than one area of study, whether it be a double major, a minor, or a certificate. But it wasn’t until I actually came to campus that I realized how common interdisciplinary academic paths were at Northwestern.
I came into college as a Radio/TV/Film major and later added an Anthropology double major and an Integrated Marketing Communications Certificate from Medill (our journalism school). This might sound like a crazy combination of unrelated things, but no one here really questioned it. Many other RTVF majors are double majoring in Econ, Stats, English and other fields. Why? Because all students here have a diverse range of interests, and NU allows us to explore them. Northwestern has so many great departments, classes and professors that it is hard to imagine being restricted to the major you declared back when you were applying as a high school student. While this is just normal here, whenever I go back home it is hard to explain to my high school friends and my family how and why I am combining my different majors and my certificate.
For me, double majoring in RTVF and Anthropology made sense after taking my first Anthro class my sophomore year. I loved how much I was learning about groups of people and I could see how to merge this knowledge with my passion for storytelling through a visual medium. But even though I found where my interests intersected, I don’t think there’s a need to rationalize the desire to explore. I think people should just do whatever they feel passionate about! We all have different interests and college doesn’t follow a straight path, so we should take detours along the way.
Even Northwestern students who only follow a single area of study take classes outside of their departments. In fact, it would be hard to avoid as there are so many cool and interesting classes—from Russian Lit, to Design Thinking and Communication, to Improvising the Comedy Web Series. NU allows us students to be academically curious, and as an RTVF/Anthro/IMC student who has taken classes in many other departments, I couldn’t be more thankful for that flexibility.