How To Pick A Major
Nathanael Meadowcroft, ’17, On Studying Math and Journalism
Written by Heather Woodhouse
A lot of folks come to Hillsdale with a plan, and that’s fantastic. But let’s face it—sometimes plans change. Nathanael Meadowcroft was planning to be a physics major and music minor. Now he’s majoring in math and minoring in journalism.
Simple conversations have the power to influence lifetime ambitions. Nathanael had one of these conversations with Prof. John Miller, his current sports-writing teacher, about sports journalism. “You like it? Go pursue it,” Prof. Miller advised him.
Now Nathanael is the sports editor for the Collegian, and last summer he was a sports-reporting intern for the Portland Tribune. I asked him how he landed this job.
“Last summer, I didn’t have a plan. The first month I was just reaching out to Portland places. The sports editor of the Portland Tribune got back to me. The first month, I was doing one or two stories a week. By the end I was doing a story every day.” Nathanael stated frankly: “You can’t expect to get what you want right away. The world doesn’t work that way.”
I asked Nathanael what his advice is for students who are struggling to pick a major.
“Pick what you enjoy,” he said. “Don’t make your decision based on what will get you a good job or what your parents want you to do.” He was also honest enough to say, “You’re going to spend four years on it. You’ll go insane if you don’t enjoy it.”
Picking a major doesn’t mean you have to stop doing other things that you love. Even though Nathanael doesn’t have time for a music minor, he still takes piano lessons with Jonathan Chesson. Although he has chosen not to be a physics major, he is able to apply some of these skills toward his math major.
His first four-hundred-level math class is called real analysis. “I wouldn’t call it fun,” he said. “I mean, it is fun—it’s fun when you understand it. You don’t write papers in math, but you have to go from point a to point b. How do you prove it true? It’s very rewarding when you figure it out.” His favorite class in journalism is sports writing. This class, perhaps more “fun” than real analysis, is only offered once every two years, and Prof. Miller teaches it.
“Going into college you don’t know what you’re going to want to do with the rest of your life,” Nathanael said. “But especially at Hillsdale, you get an idea of what you really enjoy, and you are exposed to a wide range of disciplines.”
Heather Woodhouse, ’18, is a music and English major from Eagle River, Alaska. When she’s not writing fictional short stories, Heather can be found in Howard Music Hall rocking out on jazz flute or playing didgeridoo in flute ensemble. On breaks, she beats her two older brothers at Super Smash Bros’ Brawl, Resistance, and Table Tennis. She greatly admires Ray Bradbury, Oscar Wilde, Ian Anderson, and is a friend of Krispy Kreme.