Wednesday, July 9, 2014
College 101: It's Okay Not To Have A Plan
If your high school was anything like mine, you probably had career planning shoved down your throat so violently you could throw up average salaries of 10 different jobs at any given time. And if you are anything like me, this probably seriously stressed you out. How could it not? Your 15, 16, 17 years old and being told you need to start deciding what job you want to spend the rest of your life doing. (But heaven forbid you want to get a tattoo, because that's a big decision that you might regret when you're older.)
Don't get me wrong; I think it is important to think about what you might be interested in doing after graduation, but the fact of the matter is you probably will not have it all figured out by the time you graduate high school, and I would even argue that you shouldn't. By the end of your high school career you have been exposed to a very minimal amount of all the possibilities that are out there. There are so, so many more career options than teacher, engineer, doctor, and any of the other go-to careers that high school introduces you to. Hell, there are degree options that I didn't even know existed until I started college (hello Hospitality and Tourism Management majors). High school is just a peak through a small window into a huge world full of possible degree and career paths.
You will change. Your interests and goals will change. And that is okay. We need to feel free to make allowances for that. It is okay not to have a plan. It is okay to go into college undeclared, or to change your major if your passions shift. This is the time to experiment and to allow for a little trial and error. Don't be afraid to spend your freshman year getting your gen-eds out of the way- it is a great way to get to try classes in different areas without feeling like you're falling behind. Take Italian 101 just because you can, because when are you ever going to have that opportunity again? Sign up for that World Literature class for no reason other than it sounds interesting, or see what that Intro to Advertising class your roommate took is all about. The only way to discover where your passion lies is to let yourself seek it out. And I know how scary that is, especially considering how much university costs in the United States, but think of it this way: you are going to be spending a ton of money on your degree one way or another, so wouldn't it be better to make that money worth while by getting a degree in something you genuinely enjoy and care about? If you don't like the classes you have to take to get the degree, you are definitely not going to like the career the degree gets you.
High school works very hard to convince you all that matters is the numbers, that the worth of a job is reduced to the salary it offers. College is your chance to fight back and to decide for yourself what is important to you. And maybe you are very passionate about becoming a surgeon or and engineer and I say power to you! But maybe your passionate about language. Or writing. Or literature. Or history. Or any one of a thousand other things. And that is awesome too. Your interests and goals are just as important as anyone else's.
Love yourself. Take the time to find what really interests you. Your dreams are valid. You deserve a career you are passionate about and step one in getting a career you love is finding a major you love. And if you don't know what that is yet, that's okay. Most people don't know exactly what they want to do when they get to college. Some people change majors a few times before they get it right; I did and I am so happy with where I have ended up. And I still don't know exactly what I want to do after college, but that's okay too; I still have time to work that out, and I am confident that when I do decide what direction I want to take my life in the degrees I have chosen will unlock the correct doors. And if you take the time to find where your heart belongs, so will yours.
What was your first major? Did you end up changing it and if so what did you switch to? Or, if you haven't started college yet, what majors are you considering?