Blog

Having trouble finding your way? Ask for help!
September 26, 2018
Zane Harding

There are endless paths to pursue at the University of Michigan. Many fantastic advisors and professors helped guide me.

When I first arrived on campus, I intended on majoring in Political Science, and also considered applying to the Ford School of Public Policy.

Things changed quickly, however.

By the end of my freshman year, I had my sights set on Economics. Halfway through my sophomore year, I planned on double-majoring in Organizational Studies and English. At the end of my sophomore year, I thought that I had settled on Economics and English, but before my junior year began, I decided to shift from Economics to either Data Science or Statistics to pair with my English major.

There are so many different opportunities available at the University of Michigan. While some of my friends entered college knowing what they were going to major in, I had to explore different paths before narrowing my decision. 

Thankfully, I had advisors to guide me as I transitioned from an interest in politics to an interest in statistics, particularly in sports. Back in high school, we had no clubs related to statistics, and none of the people interested in sports were as interested in sports statistics as I was. The moment I showed up on campus, however, I was very lucky to come across a new club being formed around sabermetrics, or advanced baseball statistics, called M-SABR. But I was not sure if I should join a new club or a more established club.

So I asked other people. I asked older friends on campus, I asked my parents, and I even discussed my decision with my LSA advisor. Ultimately, I became a founding member of the club, created its website, and became one of the club’s two presidents my sophomore year. Without asking others, however, I may have opted for the already-established path.

This decision was a catalyst for my academic decisions. M-SABR led to me develop an interest in quantitative majors such as Economics and Statistics. Running the site’s publication further developed my passion for writing. With the help of my LSA advisor, I was able to better integrate quantitative coursework into my future schedules. Later, after numerous conversations with my English professors during office hours, I decided I wanted an English major as well. My journey in exploring my interests was not complete, though.

The summer after my sophomore year, I took an internship position with the LSA Opportunity HubUnder the guidance of a Hub mentor, I fully realized my passion for statistical analysis and how a deep, quantitative look at real-world problems can lead to incredible innovation.

Baseball is a great example. Before the 21st century, an overwhelming majority of Major League teams shunned the idea of using anything except traditional statistics and scouting to build their rosters. Then, in the span of twelve years, Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein used an innovative, statistic-embracing approach to management that led the Boston Red Sox to break an 86-year World Series drought, and the Chicago Cubs to break a 108-year World Series drought.

Perhaps someday I will be in a position to help resolve the current Detroit Tigers World Series drought. Who knows?

It’s not always easy to navigate all of the opportunities available around Ann Arbor, and there are many decisions to be made on campus. It can be overwhelming, but if you ask for advice, it will make a world of a difference.

 

Zane Harding

is a junior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts double-majoring in Data Science and English with a minor in Entrepreneurship. He first became passionate about writing when he helped found the Michigan Society for American Baseball Research (better known as M-SABR). Today, Zane writes for SB Nation's Bless You Boys covering the Detroit Tigers, in addition to writing for M-SABR and the newly-founded Michigan Football Analytics Society (better known as M-FANS).