Meet Maggie

Writing Your Dietrich School Story

Maggie Stiffler, Peer Advisor

For some, choosing a major is natural and simple, but for others, it’s the hardest and most stressful process they’ve encountered. For me, it was the latter. How I came to the decision to study music composition while maintaining my goal of going to medical school is still a small mystery to me. As I go into my junior year here at Pitt, my academic life seems to be falling into place, and I’m eager to share my current experiences with you.

The plan was always medical school for me: graduate from high school, go to my dream college, attend med school, and then live out my life as a doctor. It all seemed fine and dandy until someone told me I needed to actually pick a major because pre-med is just a set of prerequisite courses. Biology or chemistry just didn’t feel right for me, and I was under the impression that I needed to stick with what others were doing.

I’m here to tell you that you can pursue anything that you wish! When I realized that music was my real passion and finally accepted it as a path for myself, everything became easier. I was excited to learn again.

When you start at the Dietrich School, take time to explore the vast course offerings available to you. Choose a class that relates to the career you have in mind, one that relates to another interest altogether, one that focuses on a subject you didn’t have the opportunity to study while in high school. The great thing about the broad general education requirements is that you can explore all these different areas, and still be earning the credits you need to graduate.

Here are my tips:

  1. Don’t stress about choosing a major right away. Just take some courses. Explore different areas and try to find your passion. You’ll never know whether or not you love astrophysics or religious studies until you try it!
  2. Don’t just consider the career you want after college when selecting courses. I want to be a doctor, yet I’m studying music. Majors don’t define careers!
  3. When you do choose a major, make sure it’s a program with courses you will enjoy. That sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many students dislike their majors.
  4. And no matter what, don’t worry. Remember that many students are undecided, or will change their majors along the way and that’s perfectly fine.

I wish you the best of luck as you start writing your Dietrich School story!