We live in a world that is fast-paced and instant. Before finishing high school, students are expected to know what they want to major in before they step foot on a college campus. Many high schools have college career planning as early as freshman year. Other high schools push to gather future college major information so they can include it in marketing and alumni materials. Personally, I think it is ridiculous to expect 17 and 18 year-olds to know what they want to do with their life. They have lived less than a quarter of their lives and are expected to make what seems like a monumental decision that determines the course of their career and how they spend their time until retirement. That's absolutely terrifying to me. To all the students out there that don't know what they want to be when they grow up, I'm here for you, and I am one of you.
I grew up with very eclectic interests as a child that stick with me today. My parents exposed me to various activities at the zoo, parks, libraries, and culture. As a little girl, I fluctuated between dreaming of becoming a teacher, a pop star, or a scientist. Eventually teacher and pop star faded, and I was determined to become a scientist because I found everything to do with problem solving and making things happen awesome. Growing up, my parents watched NCIS. Watching the show, I was inspired by the coolest forensic scientist, Miss Abby Scuito. I wanted to be Abby, finding answers from nothing, helping make a difference in the world. Well, that dream was put on hold after I took some of the more difficult science classes in high school. I was good at those classes, but they weren't as fun or satisfying as I had imagined it would be.
In high school, I was still very eclectic. Band, theatre, choir, quiz bowl, and even robotics were how I spent my free time. Theatre and singing became a passion of mine. I'm by no means an Idina Menzel, but I discovered that performing is such a unique way to find yourself, while also bringing joy to others at the same time. Now, what I wanted to do with theatre as a career, I still don't know, but I do know that I always want it to be a part of my life. At the same point in time, I wasn't ready to give up on my scientist dream. After it all, it was the dream that I had been telling everyone I wanted to be when I grew up since I was 11. So, I joined my school's robotics team. Rather than building the robot, or coding the movements, I was a part of the marketing team that worked to "sell" our robot in front of a panel of judges that acted as our buyers. It turns out that I'm not too bad at marketing, but it didn't spark something inside me.
For as long as I can remember, I have always thought of becoming a teacher. I can't really explain why, but it has always been in the back of my mind. I finally looked into this career path my senior year by becoming a teacher's aide. I found that teaching combines a passion of helping others, bringing joy, and making a difference in their lives, and performing. If you think that a teacher isn't the best actor or actress in the world, think again. While school can sometimes be anything but exciting, it will be my job to try to brighten the day for my students in my lesson. As of now, this is my plan, to be an English teacher, bringing joy and a greater knowledge of English language arts to my high school age students.
I'd be lying if I told you that I now have everything in my life figured out. Even though I was pretty sure I wanted to major in education, I still entered college as undecided. Many universities offer programs that help students find what they are passionate about through general education courses, job fairs, and meeting with advisors. Even with the personality tests and advising meetings I still didn't know what to do. I didn't officially pick my major until second semester freshman year. Even now, I tell everyone that asks, that my major is "English education...for now." We're young and bound to change our minds, or find that the path we are pursuing just isn't meant for us. Maybe you always thought that you were going to be a doctor, but discovered through your general education computer coding class that you want to be a mechanical engineer. Or maybe you thought you wanted to be a physical therapist but joined an environmental club during the first week of classes and decided to change your major to wildlife conservation. All of these options are perfectly okay. But you'll never know if something is right for you unless you try it.
To the students that don't know what they want to be when they grow up, I don't know either. You have time to uncover what you are meant to do. If undergrad doesn't work out, get a Master's degree in something else. Maybe college isn't for you. Maybe a career in the trades is where you are meant to be. Don't listen to anyone who is telling you that you have to pick a major right now. So, take a deep breath, take some general classes or go with the major that you think you might enjoy. Try something new, and go talk with your advisors. If your plans change, that's great! It just means you are one step closer to finding your fit. Believe in yourself, and don't be afraid if your first plan turns upside down.