Please imagine yourself,
You just had a fateful encounter with a discipline that you want to spend your four years for. You are so engaged in this area of study that it is so exciting to find news articles about it, and you cannot stop spending leisure thinking and talking with your classmates about the related subjects. When it comes to class projects, you devote yourself and spend extra effort on those. You almost want to marry your major, but you know it's legally, physically and ethically, impossible. Too bad...
The way I decided my major was not this dramatic, but one thing I recommend you is to express your love for what you study through research.
One possibility is to take a credit for research. This is called independent (or directed) study. You need to find a professor who agrees to let you work in his/her research. You earn one credit for this and write a research paper based on your hypothesis and findings.
Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP)
The name looks self-explanatory, but UROP is an one-semester-long program that provides you salary and opportunities to explore your interest and present your research project.
Below is how you can apply for UROP.
If you are already in a lab
If you are already working or volunteering in a lab, there is nothing to hesitate. Go to your professor to discuss the possibility of making a project for UROP.
If you do not belong to a lab
I was in this situation. You need to find somebody who will like you enough to let you be a part of his/her research, and this will be the hardest part even before you apply for UROP.
You might talk to your professors that you take classes with. When I joined the UROP, I talked to my professor and asked if there was an on-going or new research project and possibility to take a small fraction for UROP.
Now you can start application process!
Whether you know about how to research or not, UROP office wants you to write a short research proposal in which you explain what you want to find through research, how you will find, what you expect to find, and why your research is so important that the UROP wants to pay for it.
~Other application materials~
Then, you need to submit your personal information and how much you will spend and how you use a semester to finish your project.
Be patient. It will take about 8-10 weeks to hear back. When you almost forget about the fact that you applied, you will receive an e-mail from them.
If you are accepted, congratulations! Now you will do whatever you dreamt to do, make a poster to show off what you did, and speak in public at the end of a semester. This final symposium usually takes place in Grate Hall in Coffman Memorial Union where you will see the rest of the UROP participants from all the colleges.
During research, you will find tons of things that you cannot learn in class. It is the front line of any disciplines and a place you will find people who are so much into the area of study like you. If you are so much driven to discover, I am sure you will have a great experience☺