If you’ve ever seen Bee Movie, or you just happen to know a lot about bees for your own personal reasons, you know that bees are stuck with ONE occupation for their WHOLE LIFE. Seriously, they do one thing and even if they hate it, they’re stuck with it (although I’m sure they make the best of it). Luckily, humans are not like that. It’s one of the many things that differentiates us from bees (I’d be happy to do some research and write a separate blog on all the ways humans are different from bees in the future-- just leave a comment and I’ll get started. I digress).
When I started college, I was unaware of that particular difference between humans and bees-- I thought that our major was what we were meant to stick with for the entirety of college, and then that would be the determining factor of what we did for the rest of our lives. If you’re a bio student, you become a vet or a doctor. If you’re an architecture major, you become an architect. If you’re an art major, you become an artist. If you’re an education major, you become a teacher. Maybe I had watched Bee Movie one too many times, or maybe I just didn’t have a blog like this to tell me otherwise. Either way, I went into school TERRIFIED, thinking I was basically digging my own grave.
I spent my freshman year as an architecture major...I had been about 70% sure that was what I wanted, and there were architects in my family, so it just made sense. I knew on the first day of classes that I was miserable- but here’s the thing- I had NEVER liked school very much. I grew up with a learning disability that made math extremely difficult for me, and it led to school being a general sore spot of mine. Even in the classes I did well in, like English or history, I felt like I didn’t belong in an academic setting- I was even told by a few teachers tha I wasn’t meant to be an academic. But that’s another story. This was why I wasn’t surprised when I entered a number-heavy field (IDK guys, I guess I just like a challenge….) and I felt the same way: out of place, inferior, dispassionate, and uninspired.
There’s a professor at my college who always says, “your major is not your job.” This means that, not only are you not stuck with your major, but you have the ability to put your skills to whatever use you choose to (assuming they’re SOMEWHAT relevant). Unfortunately, I never crossed paths with this professor and heard this mantra until AFTER I had changed my major….but I want to give you the opportunity to hear this wisdom NOW, because I’m sure it would have changed my path much earlier if I had heard it.
I didn’t know that I needed to change my major. I knew that everyone else around me LOVED the major I was in, and I knew that my friends in different majors LOVED the majors they were in. But I figured I just “wasn’t a school person” and this was just the way my life would be.
I was lucky enough to have a friend who worked in my school’s academic advising center, and she saw enough miserable people change their majors to know when that was a necessary action to take, so she basically DRAGGED me into the advising center and had me talk to one of the advisors. 2 days later, I had changed my major to what would end up being the DREAM major for me, and what would lead to my incredible job here at UNiDAYS.
The advisor asked me several questions, which I think we should all ask ourselves.
- What subjects did you enjoy in high school?
- What did you say you’d be as an adult when you were a kid?
- Do you feel challenged in a healthy way in your major? Do you enjoy that challenge?
- Is there anything within this field that you could be happy doing for 40+ years?
- Do you hate the WORK, or do you hate the SUBJECT (meaning: are you just being lazy, or do you actually dislike what you’re learning about)
- What would you major in in an alternate universe?
- And finally, would your life feel greatly improved if you walked out of here with a different major today?
These questions seemed SO basic to me, and I almost felt as though I had ALREADY asked myself these questions...but, sitting in her office that day, I realized that I hadn’t fully thought about it. And, it turned out, there were majors I NEVER would have considered that I fit into perfectly. In fact, I almost created my OWN personalized major (lots of schools offer this option!!!). I never would have guessed I’d be a communications major one day, but when I added graphic design and marketing minors, I realized that I could put all of my favorite skills to use at once.
Now, another concern I remember having while changing my major was, “am I just quitting by changing my major?” And to that, looking back now, I say this: if you’re trying on a pair of jeans in a store that don’t fit, and you swap them for a different size, do you think you’re quitting on those jeans? Or do you think you’re making the more PRACTICAL decision that will be worth your time, money, and effort in the long run? The latter, probably. So, by changing your major, you’re not quitting one thing- you’re just exchanging it for one that fits, and one that will service you for years to come.
My advice to you is this: if you dread going to class (and NOT just because you’re tired and/or hungover, or your professor’s voice is annoying, or you sit next to some obnoxious girl who chews gum loudly), and you don’t like the subject you’re discussing, and you don’t feel motivated or inspired by the work you do, you might need to change your major.
Once I was in the right major, I found myself WANTING to talk about the topics we discussed in class. Obviously, some classes and subjects are more tedious than others, but I CHOSE to write a 72-page thesis that was NOT required of me. Why? Because I loved what I was studying, and I wanted to dive deeper into it. I found myself wanting to hang out with the people in my classes, because I felt like we had things in common. I no longer felt out of place, and I ended up receiving several academic awards for being a top student in my major. Who’s bad at school NOW, @ my 6th grade math teacher?!
College is the time to find your passion. Many people have the mistaken impression that they have to enter college with their lives figured out- but it’s quite the opposite. Many people enter college “undeclared” because they want the opportunity to explore different subjects and find their passion. Schools have academic advisors for a reason: to ADVISE students on their ACADEMICS.
If there’s even a small part of you that feels like you’re wearing a pair of jeans that don’t quite fit every time you open up your textbook, take it upon yourself to chat with your school’s advisors. That’s what they’re there for, and they TRULY want to help.
Remember- you’re not a quitter, you DON’T need to have your life figured out at age 18 (or 21, or even 45), and you DO belong in an academic setting-- maybe you just haven’t found that specific setting yet. But you can, you will, and before you know it, you’ll be flying high and looking back laughing at the days when you were in a major that you hated.