BDIC is why I came to UMass.
I am surprised that most students do not know about BDIC, which stands for Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration. It is a program which allows you to make your own major. I knew before I even came to UMass that this was exactly what I needed.
In high school, I became interested in the field of Demography. Simply out of curiosity, I would read articles about the changing family structure and dating culture in America. I noticed that all of these articles mentioned or were written by demographers. When I looked into the discipline, I realized that it described exactly what I wanted to study.
Sadly, though, demography courses are only offered at the graduate level in most schools, but I really wanted my undergraduate research to focus on it. So I decided to do a BDIC.
BDIC caters to a certain type of student. These students are either the ones who want to take a bunch of classes in many different areas because they just want to know everything, or they are the students who have a specific career in mind and want to only take classes which will help them achieve it. Basically, they know exactly what they want to do and they have the motivation to make it happen.
I thought it would be difficult, and it is! It is hard to plan out the next three years as a first-year student, especially when you are still adjusting to campus life and figuring out all of the opportunities that are available. But there are so many people who help you. My biggest help has been that I found a professor who does demographic research. If you plan on doing a BDIC, I would suggest finding a professor who does work in the same field and ask them if they think your concentration is feasible at UMass. It almost always is, because if we do not have enough classes, you can take classes at any of the other schools in the consortium, or you can do domestic exchange or study abroad. That is probably what I love the most about UMass: You can literally do ANYTHING here.
Also, you do not have to be one hundred percent sure of your concentration. The program is really flexible, so if you want to switch a class, you can. If you want to change the focus of your research, you can. BDIC is what you make of it, so if you put a lot of effort into planning it out and adjusting it when your interests change, you will get a lot out of it.
Since high school, my own research interests have changed; they’ve crossed the globe, to be more specific. I became interested in China’s sex ratio imbalance after reading Mara Hvistendahl’s Unnatural Selection, and that has made me want to study Asian demographic changes. I had gone into BDIC thinking that my concentration would be all Anthropology and Sociology classes, but through the proposal writing class (BDIC 396P, which is mandatory for you to enter the major) I realized that Public Health and Geoscience classes actually fit my research interests more. My entire focus changed, and BDIC accommodated it.
So even if you are not exactly sure of what you want to do, but you are certain that you do not fit into any prescribed major, check out BDIC. Here is their website for more information: http://bdic.umass.edu/.