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I started college, like many freshmen, with literally no idea what I wanted to do with my life. And that’s really okay. Because guess what? Even though it took me a little while to figure it out, I turned out just fine—I graduated college, and now I’m working at a job that I genuinely enjoy. Not to mention, all of the people I know who started college with a definite “plan” ended up changing their mind by the end of semester one. So, here’s why you should take your sweet time finding out what you want to do with your life.
You don’t have to declare your major as a freshman.
Most universities don’t require you to choose a major until at least your sophomore year. While floating along for an entire year of school with no particular “purpose” might seem like a bad idea in theory, in reality, it’s the best gift you could give yourself at this point in your life.
Take advantage of this time by exploring your passions and interests–and enjoy being young and careless, because this is probably the last chance you will get.
College classes are much different than high school classes.
Just because you took an accounting class in high school and enjoyed it, doesn’t mean that you should enter college as an Accounting major. I can tell you this from personal experience, as I took many “experimental” classes my freshman year to explore any potential interests I might have had.
I took accounting because I was thinking about being an accountant, I took chemistry because I was considering pharmacy school, and I took creative writing because writing had always been something I enjoyed in my free time (but never considered turning it into a career)—guess which one won out?
You will probably end up changing your major at least once.
I honestly cannot think of a single person I know who graduated with the same major they rushed to declare freshman year. My friend Rachel began college as a psychology major, changed to pre-med, and then ended up graduating with a linguistics degree.
The downside to finding your major this way is that instead of simply taking a few exploratory classes, you end up wasting time and money on a lot of classes that prove to be useless toward your actual degree (once you finally figure it out). I didn’t declare my major(s) until after freshman year was over and because I was so sure by this point (after exploring many other options), I never looked back. Which leads me to my next point:
Explore all of your options.
Even though general education classes may just seem like something you have to get through before you can get to the classes that actually matter, these classes really have more power than you think.
You could potentially take a gen ed history class with a fantastic, passionate teacher who ends up changing your mind about hating history. Or you could find out that you maybe shouldn’t major in the sciences after suffering through a required biology class. You just never know, so be open to changing your mind.
Picking a major doesn’t guarantee a specific profession.
My friend Matt majored in Political Science and is now working in the finance industry. I’ll bet that wasn’t where he thought he would end up after graduation, kind of like I never imagined that I would be able to make a living out of writing. Majoring in political science doesn’t mean you will be a lawyer, and a creative writing degree doesn’t mean that you will live in your mom’s basement, surviving off of Ramen noodles.
You can’t directly correlate your degree to your future career. All this will do is put yourself in a box that limits your potential. Doors will open and close (sometimes against your will), so all you can do is choose something that you know makes you happy and trust that the rest will work itself out.
Don’t be afraid to declare more than one major.
When I declared my majors as both English and creative writing after my second semester of college was complete, I definitely didn’t think I would end up graduating as a double-major three years later. At the time, I just couldn’t choose one passion over the other, so I simply didn’t. I figured that after another semester of classes, I would be able to decide which one was the best fit for me (which never happened).
Don’t get me wrong – double-majoring was anything but easy, but still, I am glad that I didn’t cheat myself from exploring both of my passions equally.
This is the rest of your life – but no pressure (seriously).
While choosing a major may seem like a major life decision, try not to sweat it too much. It can seem like a lot of pressure to choose a major that will both make you happy and benefit your future career, but in the end, nothing is ever truly final. There’s always grad school or online classes if you graduate and realize that you’re stuck in the wrong career path. As cliche as it may be, try your best to follow your heart, and the rest will work itself out.