If you are of college age, then you’ve probably been asked the following questions TONS of times. “What’s your major?” “What are you going to do with that degree?” “What’s your career path?”. And if you are like me, for a while, you didn’t know a good answer.
I began college as an education major, but I realized by the Spring semester that my heart loved something else. To preface all of this-it’s completely okay to enter college undecided as to what you want to major in, or what you want to do with your life. Heck, if you really wanted to, you could be undecided for quite some time and still be on track to graduate. By junior year you should have an idea, unless you want to spend more time in school.
So, whether we like it or not, you’ll eventually need to find your path in college. It’s hard. It’s frustration. It’s a loaded question full of pressure and stress-but it doesn’t have to be!
Here are some tips to help you find your path in college-and hopefully your passions as well!
1. Join Clubs.
Either that, or make sure you some other extracurriculars in college. Not only will this help you find friends, but if you participate in activities you love, you’ll find like minded people. They can help you figure out your path or be a stepping stone in your future. I met a girl who had my desired major in a club freshman year and in talking to her, I realized that’s what I needed to major in.
2. Take general education classes in your first few years.
General education classes don’t solely exist to make you miserable, they are put in place so you can find subjects that you love! Taking them in your first few years can make the search for the right major 10x easier than if you just guessed-plus these classes keep you on track to graduate!
3. Take a career path quiz!
A quick google search is all you need to find a quiz that can show you what jobs you might be good at based off of your personality. This isn’t for sure-and it’s only a starting point, but it’s a good thing to do to open up your mind to jobs you didn’t realize were options.
4. Sit down and make a list of what excites and energizes you.
Having a starting list of things that make you happy is crucial. If you know science doesn’t make you happy-why would you study to become a physicist?
5. Think of what you are good at!
Going along with the previous point, after you’ve made a list of what excites and energizes you, go back through and mark ones that are things you are really good at. For example, you might really like football, but you aren’t good at playing. In that case-think about other things you could do that surround you with football stuff. Athletic director? Trainer? Use your “loves” as a starting point.
Think you might like to be a doctor? Get an internship as a scribe one summer to immerse yourself. In doing so, you can figure out further if that is the right path for you. Don’t have enough time to commit to an internship? Find a professional in your field of interest and see if you can shadow them for a day!
7. Find a mentor-even if it’s just a peer!
An upper classman, someone in the work force, or even a professor in your field of study can be crazy helpful in giving you a sense of what is ahead. They can help push you to reach your goals, and when the time comes, help you find connections where you could get a job.
8. Talk to others in that major or career field!
Ask questions as you meet people! I originally was looking into more of the programming side of media-but after talking to some others in that major, decided that what they were focusing on wasn’t what I wanted. Don’t be afraid to talk to others and ask questions-they don’t bite!
9. Focus on stepping stones, not a direct path.
My major so far has been filled with stepping stones. If I just focused on graduating in order to get a job, I’d have missed out on a ton of opportunities. Keep your eyes open for projects that come your way that will help you grow, build your portfolio, or something you are really interested in. College is meant to be fun!
10. If it bores you, or you dread it, then it might not be the best fit.
That was my “aha” moment in my education classes; I realized I dreaded making lesson plans. Decades of doing that sounded like torture to me. So even though it was hard, and it meant that I would have to leave the classes I had with a lot of my friends, I switched to digital media. Now, I love all of my homework-and it doesn’t feel like work at all.
11. Follow your curiosity-think of what you would want to do if money wasn’t involved.
There might be a major that you really want to pursue, but you know your parents wouldn’t approve. If your heart is telling you to go a different way-you might want to listen. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to do a job that I though was more acceptable just to please others. I wanted to be happy. You deserve to be happy too.
12. What makes you different makes you special.
Like to paint but love science? Maybe you can help illustrate textbooks after you graduate? Maybe your path should be a science major with an art minor? The things that make you different are what can help you stand out!
13. It’ll be hard, but don’t give up.
My normal week during the school year involves working close to 35 hours, studying a lot, and volunteering my time to help others. It’s all stuff I love to do-but my schedule gets really busy. It’s hard, and sometimes pushes me close to my breaking point but it makes me happy-and the things I’m doing now are my stepping stones to where I want to be in the future. If you are like me and jam pack your schedule, take time for yourself sometimes, focus on self care, and don’t give up!
Haley is the Academic Editor at The Young Hopeful and a junior at Loyola University Chicago, where she is a Digital Media and Visual Communications major. If she isn’t blogging, you can find her with her camera on adventures, curled up reading a good book, or cooking some type of pasta. Haley loves jamming with her ukulele, working on an art journal, cheesecake, and has a severe case of wanderlust. She loves to write about the adventures of college, self love, and living creatively. You can find Haley over on her blog, Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook.