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It’s Okay Not To Know: My Advice on Choosing a Major

Picture this: you’re 10 years old, sitting in your fifth grade class, it’s career day. Your teacher is passing out a worksheet with different careers and crayons to color in the job of your choice. The options are a doctor, teacher, police officer or astronaut. You decide to color in the doctor because you remember that your mom once said they make a lot of money, completely ignorant to the fact that it’s not as easy as coloring in a lab coat to become a doctor.

But now you’re in college and that worksheet activity has become a reality. Many college students struggle with choosing a major, and that’s okay. It can seem daunting, with thousands of different careers, how are you supposed to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life? However, selecting a career doesn’t need to be as stressful as it seems. What path you decide to take should come naturally.

I struggled immensely on picking my major before attending university. I was conflicted on whether I wanted to be a teacher or go into the field of journalism. I had been a part of my news team in high school and thoroughly enjoyed writing, so I figured that going into that realm made sense.

What I found most important about choosing journalism as my major was knowing what I didn’t want to do. Deciding what majors are not for you is crucial to narrowing down your options and finding what fits you best. I knew I was not a math or science person, therefore any of those type of majors were immediately dismissed.

You hear stories from elders explaining how they had no idea what they wanted to do, or if they did, ended up going down a totally different path. What I’ve noticed though is that many of these people are relatively happy with where they ended up. This dilemma is very minuscule in whole grand scheme of things. Don’t force a major you’re not 100% confident about, let the major find you. And even if you’re totally sure about your career direction, be open to the possibility that it can change.

Lots of students base their majors on rationale. Does this job have a good outlook? Does it pay well? Will I be able to have a family while also maintaining my career? The questions are endless.

Before you spiral, think to yourself, “Will I be happy?” I’m not saying you can’t be concerned with the monetary value of your career, but I think finding a healthy balance is important. Specifically, a well-rounded job. You want to be happy in your career while also being able to provide for yourself.

Another thing to remember is that you have time. I know there’s this preconditioned timeline everyone believes they must to follow to be “successful”. High school, then college, a career, marriage, and kids. But, take some time to consider, “what is even deemed as successful?” The truth is, there isn’t one single definition. Your version success is completely different than that of another person.

You don’t have to act in accordance to this timeline to feel like you’re heading in the right direction. You have so much time and opportunity to go back to school later in life, and you can even hold off on getting married and having kids until you’ve figured out what you want to do.

That’s the beauty of time. Your path is completely different than anyone else’s. So refrain from comparing yourself to others success, because yours will happen exactly when it’s supposed to.

Vanessa Hohner is currently a first-year student minoring in Journalism at Penn State. She loves all things writing and has a special place in her heart for reality TV.
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