Switching to Public Affairs!
By Megan Tagami
When preparing for winter quarter enrollment in my freshman year, I was confused and overwhelmed—to say the least. While I had found my first quarter of political science coursework to be challenging but engaging, I was also drawn to the public affairs major and the opportunities it provided me to apply my lessons to real-world problems. However, because I did not start off as a public affairs pre-major, I worried that I would be too behind to apply into the major on time. To my relief, I soon learned that entering the major, even a quarter later than some of my other peers, was more than doable. Here are the tips I would give my first-year self:
Ask for help as soon as possible! When I was first exploring public affairs, I tried to create a four-year plan for myself, but I had difficulty understanding the pre-major requirements on my own. Even though I was not yet registered as a pre-major, I reached out to our advisor, April Enriquez, over the Message Center on MyUCLA. She walked me through all of the major requirements and helped me to create a feasible four year plan that incorporated both my political science and public affairs courses. I left our first meeting feeling so much calmer and prepared to take on my first enrollment pass!
See if you can petition to receive public affairs credit for courses you have already taken. Again, I would recommend talking to April about this! It was a huge relief for me to find that a few of the political science classes I had already taken or was planning to take could be petitioned to count toward my public affairs requirements.
Trust the process! I originally was worried that I would be unprepared for the demands of a public affairs course, because I was unable to enroll in PA 10 for my first quarter in the pre-major and had never written a policy memo or op-ed assignment before. However, I soon realized that it is not necessary to take the pre-major classes in any specific order. Moreover, my professors and TAs were more than willing to walk me through the basics of policy memos and op-eds during office hours, which helped me feel much more confident to tackle some of my earliest assignments.
Switching into or adding on the public affairs major can feel overwhelming at times, but it’s definitely doable and rewarding! As long as you communicate with your advisors and ask for help when you need it, you’ll hopefully find that those four year plans aren’t quite as bad as you first thought. Good luck!