Defying STEM: My Unconventional Path

Fiona Lin ‘23, Managing Editor

The only science I’ve ever been interested in is political science. And of course, it’s a subject one would not traditionally classify as a science. STEM has never been my forte, and I live to prove that. Just last week, my fingers slipped while adjusting the voltage of my physics circuit, and I fried and burned the resistor in front of the whole class. While I awkwardly laughed and attempted to waft the smoke away from my unlucky groupmates, I’d realize how embarrassing it is to be in a class full of juniors – and still mess up this badly

So here I present a guide for all the people who want to save themselves from this kind of embarrassment, students who intend to pursue the humanities and social sciences, and those who are too lazy to take any advanced science courses. 

Junior year, as all of my classmates were loading their schedules up with courses like Advanced Biology, Advanced Chemistry, and A.P. Computer Science A, I impulsively dropped my Physics Accelerated class in the first marking period. Bold, right? I thought so too.

I’d consider my junior year schedule atypical. Nevertheless, I was able to dedicate time to subjects and classes that I genuinely enjoyed – Economics, Sociology, Constitution, and Journalism. There was no “advanced” label attached to any of these courses, but they prepared me well for what I plan to explore in college. At the end of the day, that’s what matters the most. 

By no means am I trying to deter anyone from taking high-level STEM courses. Rather, I want to caution underclassmen against peer pressure – there is no wrong or right path, good or bad schedule. “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” This is a favorite from Haruki Murakami. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Only do what feels right to you.


Lin Takes on History Electives 



Hard to get into as a junior, but worth the try. This class is an essential for future finance bros. It reinforced the idea that the College Board is a monopoly that profits off of our education (nothing new) and taught me that my existence is a negative externality. I loved copying Monte’s graphs down into my notebook and labeling them with random letters. 



Applicable to life! We traded candies/chocolates to learn about world commerce and globalization – I may have forgotten what international capital flows are, but I will always remember those glow-in-the-day kitkats. The MVP of this class is Jerome Powell; I feel like I now know more about him than most of my relatives. 



Watched more documentaries over the span of three months than the first sixteen years of my life. Can’t get over the fact that one spelling bee guy’s parents hired a thousand people in India to pray for him. To this day I’m still trying to figure out why I am so short – is it nurture or nature? Did I just have bad genes or should I have chugged more milk at the age of five? 



A wild ride but definitely worth the hype. Brace yourself for current events quizzes (guessed on half of these), Lund’s legendary life stories, and Monday morning editorial board meetings that I show up ten minutes late to. Warning: Dr. Lund also has a lifelong supply of candy in his room, but only take one at a time. 



Who better to have deep, philosophical discussions than Mr. Zeller himself? This writing and reading intensive will leave you questioning America. The biggest takeaway from this class is COMPROMISE. Talk to Zellers about the need to compromise in this polarized society. He will go on and on.