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?


  1. When I worked in schools with 15/16 year olds I always impressed on them that it was ok to not know what they wanted to do, an idea was ok, they could work it out as they went a long the road of life.
    My seniors weren't too happy with this ethos, the kids loved it though!

    1. Yeah I think by senior year most of us have definitely internalized this need to have a plan. It caused me a lot of stress for sure because when things changed I felt completely lost. But you never know what you will be introduced to in college. I'm definitely now looking at possible jobs that I never would have seen myself even considering in high school- if I even knew they existed. I'm so glad that I took the time to work it all out now, but I wish I would have felt free to do it from the beginning.

      Thanks so much for dropping by! (:

  2. Thank you for this post. People need to know that it's okay not to know what you want in life. I decided on studying Italian, and realised almost immediately that it wasn't for me, but I decided to stick with it, because otherwise it had been a waste of time and money. Three years later, I quit anyway, because I had no motivation left whatsoever. Then I immediately took up film, theatre and literature, just to be able to say I wasn't doing nothing, but I quit that too. Now I've had some time to think about it, and I'm going back to languages, but German this time, alongside Dutch and English. I start again at the end of September, and I feel good about it this time!

    1. I'm sorry that you had such stressful time with it, but I'm very happy that you're working it out and are excited about going back! My boyfriend switched majors 5 times before he figured it out! What matters is that you give yourself permission to say I'm not sure but lets try this.

      I hope languages work out for you! One of my roommates studies both German and Spanish; it blows my mind that people can do that! I took 3 semesters of Japanese and was ready to be done haha. I still want to learn other languages, but I don't think classroom learning works particularly well for me when it comes to language learning.

    2. Languages is the course for me, I was just really mistaken about Italian. I am Dutch, but since I live in Belgium, we were obligated to learn French from the age of 10. I hated it - my passion is English, which I've been learning on my own since I was 7. I've also had two years of German and Spanish in high school, which I don't remember anything of, and now 3,5 years of Italian, which I'm trying to block out, haha. It has been pretty stressful, but I've always wanted to properly learn German, so I think this will be fine :)

  3. Brilliant post!
    I'm from the UK so our university system is so different. We need to know what we want to by 16 years old because we need the right A levels to get on a specific course and you have no way out but to drop out.
    There is so much choice out there though and you really do need to research. I've ended up doing a course I didn't expect to do at the age of 16 and I seem to be doing brilliantly. You do just need to go with the flow sometimes and see what happens and do what you want to do even if others question it.

    Rachael at


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