How I Chose My Majors: Psychology & Journalism
By Nina Prenosil
Choosing a major as a first-year student is often a hard decision. I thought I was locking myself into a commitment that would define my life for the foreseeable future. Now, I sit here and laugh at my 18-year-old self who was studying political science and was terrified that my only option was to become a politician. But here I am, two years later in my junior year studying psychology and journalism with a concentration in public relations (PR).
It took me two semesters to officially decide what I wanted to study, but after much careful consideration and several meetings with academic advisors, it became clear that psychology and journalism were going to pair perfectly for me.
Well, that was until I changed my mind again. Fortunately, the UMass Journalism Department has so many great concentrations, and I found my place in the public relations concentration and haven’t looked back since.
Why I Chose to Double Major
Although my primary major is psychology, I do intend to work in the public relations field after graduation. However, by combining these two fields of study I have found a great balance: psychology helps me understand the human psyche, which will greatly benefit me in my work in public relations.
Double majoring has been a great experience for me, especially because my studies are vastly different. Currently, for psychology, I am taking a neuroscience course and am a teaching assistant for Abnormal Psychology. For journalism, I am taking a PR ethics course and a PR writing course.
The variation in my studies allows me to never feel bogged down in work because one minute I may be studying about the cerebellum and the next I am drafting a media pitch.
Now I’d like to talk a bit more about how I actually ended up choosing my two majors. Picking psychology as my primary major was an easy decision. I remember the day I declared it, I texted my mom and said “By the way, I’m a psychology major now.” While I made a somewhat hasty decision, I really didn’t need much time to think about it. I am very passionate about mental health and suicide prevention, and have a deep interest in cognitive disorders — so psychology was the perfect fit. While I may not currently plan to work in this field, I had plenty of room in my schedule to have two majors so I decided psychology would be my “passion project.”
Why I Chose a Public Relations Concentration
In terms of declaring journalism as my secondary major, I chose this from more of a profession-oriented standpoint. At the time of declaring journalism, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do but I knew it was within the journalistic realm. Overall the public relations major at UMass is very hands-on and the classes are all relatively small, which is a great opportunity to personally connect with the professors. As aforementioned, it took some time but I found my way to the public relations concentration and plan to pursue a career in PR after I graduate.
One of the best parts about studying public relations at UMass is the opportunity to put my learning into tangible practice. In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I began working as a public relations assistant for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. In this position, I am able to work as a PR professional while also representing the students’ voice at UMass. Also, as a communications assistant for Commonwealth Honors College, I have been able to learn more about the field of communications more broadly, which ties directly to public relations.
"One of the best parts about studying public relations at UMass is the opportunity to put my learning into tangible practice."
Before graduation, I will also be completing a certificate in Civic Engagement and Public Service (CEPS) through my work with the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning. This certificate program has allowed me to broaden the depth of my studies. The CEPS certificate is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students for a life of community engagement for political and social change. It combines theory and practical experiences in a coherent framework for students from any major.
While choosing a major that’s right for you takes time and careful consideration, it always seems to come together harmoniously. UMass offers so many areas of study, and if there isn’t anything of interest to you, you can create a major for yourself! UMass and Commonwealth Honors College facilitate creativity in your studies and that has been my favorite part of the journey so far.