It's something most of us can relate to; starting college without knowing what you're even going to study. Some people have their heart set on a certain career path, only for them to completely abandon it after acquiring a new passion in school. It takes a lot of time and money to switch majors, which can be excruciating after having attended school for the past thirteen years. Here is some advice on how to get it figured out sooner rather than later, and my story on how I fell in love with my college major.
I have always been the type of person who didn't really fit in at school. I constantly craved more knowledge, beyond the curriculum that was (usually) being poorly taught. In 10th grade, I was excited to be able to start the Early College Alliance Program at Eastern Michigan University, where students could earn up to sixty paid college credits, while also finishing up high school requirements.
Prior to starting this program, I felt like I didn't have many interests. My parents mentioned studying business during one of many of our figure-out-my-life conversations, and I went along with it since I didn't truly know my passion. It seemed like this was my only option at the time: I hated science and I absolutely despised math. Business couldn't be that bad for me, right?
WRONG! A 100 level class doesn't sound like it would be too hard for most college students, but Economics 101 sucked the life out of me and the four other friends I took the class with. I found myself zoning out way too often and not knowing what types of questions to ask when I was confused. It was like one of those times when the teacher asks what you're confused about and all you can say is "everything." It was easily the hardest class I've ever taken in my entire academic career. Finishing the class with a high C confirmed to me that I would have to (effortlessly) let go of my future in business. It also led me to have more respect for business students-- hey, that stuff is hard!
One night I had a crazy dream where I was in a harness, rappelling down a huge canvas decorated with the most beautiful realistic painting on it. Covered in paint and my dreaming state wrist sore, I had finished this piece of artwork. I woke up after looking around me and seeing an entire gallery of my work. I had never been able to paint this good, but I was inspired to keep practicing and maybe make something out of the artistic talent that I did possess. I took a watercolor class, which is my favorite type of art to do, but ended up dropping it before going back for the second day.
It was hard for me to express my thoughts and feelings through art when I had a rubric and certain standards telling me what to do. I still love watercolor painting and art, but I would prefer to keep it a hobby rather than have others decide for me what to create.
By this time, I was winding down to my last year of high school, which meant my last year of free college. I would have to really start doing more research about which major I should pursue.
My aunt had been a social worker for many years, and she had just retired from the school district she worked at. I thought of all the interesting, sad joyful and memorable stores she would tell me about the kids and families she worked with. Initially, the mention of social work as a major did not sit well with most of the important people in my life. I would never make good money and I would be depressed all the time.
This statement might have been true, for someone else. But I chose to see the brighter side of things. I want to see families get better, children get adopted, people recover from addiction. That's what makes me happy. As for the money situation, it wasn't until my first social work class that I learned social work as a profession is on the up-and-coming and at more of a demand in society. I have also wanted to attend graduate school and beyond whatever I found myself studying.
My first social work class was the best class I've ever taken. I learned so much without having to memorize formulas, equations or properties. During class meeting times, I would always feel energized and exuberant, unlike most of the other classes I was taking. I found out that my passion was learning about different types of cultures and communities and becoming an activist. I was so excited to finally feel right about what path I was taking.
My advice to anyone struggling with figuring out what to study would be to find out what you don't like first. There was a girl from my school who was so sure she wanted to be a nurse from the moment she could walk until she took a nursing class. Then, she wanted nothing to do with nursing ever again. Take some random classes that you might not have considered taking in the past, because who knows? You might end up loving it. From there, follow what you want to do, what you think is right for yourself. Not your parents, not your friends, YOU. In the end, you're going to be the one studying it and most likely sticking with it forever. Find your true calling and fall in love with it, as I did with social work.