International Studies Major | University of San Francisco

< Back to College Advice

Q&A: International Studies Major – Jessica H (3:28)

“So my major is international studies, and I have a focus and peace and conflict study, specifically in Latin America. Part of the reason why I chose this is because it’s a very interdisciplinary major that engages critical approaches in history, politics, sociology, and anthropology. After starting the program and being a Latin American studies minor, I decided that I wanted to get a minor in Spanish as well.”

Why College

The growth that it gives you in personal development, leadership skills, ability to socialize and be personable are some of the largest takeaways, I think, from continuing your education being surrounded by diverse populations. And there’s also this sense of personal growth that I think is more important, and that someone like you, who’s considering higher education, should really take into account because it’s very transformative.

Choosing a College

Visiting schools, if you have the financial means to do so, is really important. And if not, just doing really good research and kind of doing some digging on what the school represents, some of its aims and goals, especially looking into the future because you want to be able to say after four years that you’re proud to have gone to a school. And I think, really learning about that school as much as possible before stepping into its doors is really crucial to enjoying your college experience.

Choosing a Major

I think that you should take your high school experience as a opportunity to talk with teachers that you’ve had great classes with, maybe you loved your AP psych teacher, and pick their brain about some of the courses that you’ve enjoyed, so when you go into college, you can kind of have a sense. And then you can take your general ed classes and see if anything speaks to you. So I think that time of figuring it out is really important, but you don’t want to get lost in that time and end up, two years later, struggling to still determine where you want to be. And I think it’s important, too, to recognize that, “I’m in international studies, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be working in international politics,” right? We can take this time in college to study things that we’re passionate about. We could go on to higher education after this, and maybe hone into something more career centered, but don’t feel like your time in college has to translate to what your career is going to be.

Freshman Survival Tips

In college, it’s interesting, you have more free time than in high school, but you have more stuff to do. So it’s really important that you don’t get lost in that free time, and think, “I have two more hours later to get stuff done.” And I think that’s really easy to happen for students. So I think when it comes to studying and working in school, finding a really great place on campus or in your dorm, in your housing that is specific to your needs studying. I, personally, love a silent environment where you could hear a needle drop, some people like listening to music, and I think finding that space is really important. And I think, in high school it’s good to start developing your critical reading skills because you do a lot of reading in college, too, and professors are going to expect a lot more of you than they did in high school. And take this time in high school to figure out what your studying needs are. If you like having a study buddy, if you want that complete silence or a bit of a more stimulating environment because that’s going to really help you in college when it comes to being a successful student.

Advice for Girls

The most important thing is to enjoy your college education. You shouldn’t feel like it’s a burden. It should be a time for you to explore yourself, enjoy yourself, and learn and grow and evolve and transform. So I hope that your time in college is like that for you.