How I chose my major: Human Development and Family Studies

A student teacher plays with children outside in the sun

In the “How I chose my major” series, we showcase the academic paths CSU students have taken, and students tell their stories in their own words. Read on to meet Sophie, a CSU Human Development and Family Studies major, and learn how she decided it was the perfect path for her college career and far beyond.

In high school, when it came time to decide what I was going to major in, I was clueless. I was surrounded by classmates who knew they were future engineers, scientists, doctors, veterinarians, or teachers. While I did fine in my AP and honors STEM courses, that was all I really knew in high school. And after four years of it, I knew that wasn’t for me.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my life, it’s the power of reflection. I sat down to think about who I was as a person, and realized I fit into multiple identities: a student, an athlete, a musician, a daughter, a sister, a friend. While those first few identities were very salient in high school, I knew I was ready to pursue other ones, and those last two really stuck with me: a family member, and a friend.

I liked my academics in high school, but due to district requirements I wasn’t able to explore different career paths outside of the stereotypical STEM courses. Because of this, I knew I couldn’t base my college major solely off of previous academic experiences. I had a part-time job working at a respite care for children with disabilities, I volunteered as a student leader in my high school, I was in National Honor Society, and I continually volunteered around my community. Eventually I had the realization that all of these things had one commonality: I was a people person through and through, and I wanted to live my life helping others.

Once I figured that out, it was time to actually nail down a degree path. After talking with a CSU admissions counselor and diving through CSU’s website (which lists all 70+ majors, 140+ concentrations, and 80+ minors), one kept catching my eye: Human Development and Family Studies. On the major’s website, two simple sentences describing the course of study: “Our programs are the pathway for you to learn about the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development in humans. You will apply your knowledge on issues relating to stages across the lifespan and how it impacts culture and families.”

I immediately knew that this was something I was interested in. Learning about what makes us humans — not only as individuals, but as a collective unit — and being able to apply this in a multitude of ways? I was sold. I was even more invested when I found out that HDFS has five areas of concentration: a general/broad option, Early Childhood Professions, Pre-Health Professions, Prevention and Intervention Sciences, and Leadership and Entrepreneurial Professions. I loved the option to study human development at a broad level, and multiple options to specialize in one specific area. They also listed out all types of experience-based learning, from student teaching in the CSU Early Childhood Center to internships in various fields of medicine, business, and beyond. I knew that this major would get me far, keep me interested in learning, and would be applicable in my daily life.

Four years later, I am proud to say that I am now a proud CSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Professions. I’ve taught in classrooms, worked in education settings, and done a lot of hard learning throughout the years to become a better person, family member, and friend. HDFS is a truly special degree; it not only prepares you academically for the world, but challenges you to continually learn to improve in every area of life. I am forever grateful for my time in the major and for the person it shaped me into!

headshot of Sophie in her grad cap

Sophie is a CSU graduate from Lakewood, Colorado. She has a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Professions, a minor in Spanish, and the University Honors Scholar distinction. During her time at CSU, she was an Admissions Ambassador, studied abroad with the CSU concert choir, and enjoyed trying new food in Fort Collins. She loves Fort Collins with all her heart and is forever proud to be a CSU Ram!