Are You Doubting your Degree?

Doubting your degree - have you done it? I know I have.

If you’re a university or college student and have ever doubted your degree, do not stress, it’s completely normal and happens to almost everyone. Having those thoughts cross your mind is terrifying. 

“Did I choose the right program?”

“Am I good at this?” 

“Are there going to be any jobs for me when I’m done?”

These thoughts lead you to question everything, right down to your decision to even attend post-secondary at all. 

I am currently in my second-year of journalism school and still sometimes have doubts about whether or not I made the right program choice. But every day, or maybe once a week, something happens that reassures me to stay on this path. Sure, the feeling may not last long, but it’s enough to give me the boost of confidence and motivation I need to keep going, even if it’s only enough to get me to the next day, it helps just the same. 

There are constantly times where I doubt my degree and my career path in general, but I have learned (or am trying to learn) to let them pass me by. If I hold onto these doubts, it will only lead to me doubting myself as a writer and a student.

Being in journalism, I am constantly faced with the big question: “Aren’t you worried that you’re not going to get a job?” I cannot even express how much I used to despise that question. The reason I detested that question so much was because I was worried, but I never want to say it out loud, much less admit to myself. That question plagued my mind for the entirety of summer 2019; the summer before potentially making the biggest mistake of my life: going into a field that wasn’t going to give me a future, or so I thought. 

Being where I am now and thinking back to summer 2019 and how far I have come, that question doesn’t bother as much as it used to because now, I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. I chose journalism because I loved to write about current and relevant issues and just express and expand my creative genius. 

One of the main reasons I ever doubted my degree was because I would always compare it to the degrees and career paths chosen by my peers. I would compare journalism to programs like biochemical engineering and computer science and feel like I was lacking in intelligence, just because those programs sounded fancier and smarter than mine, but doing that was pointless. Everyone has different talents, interests and skills. Just because yours aren’t the same as someone else’s, doesn’t mean they’re worth any less and once I realized that, those questions didn’t bother me anymore.

So, if you’re doubting your degree, here’s the advice I have for you:

Take a breath

There’s nothing more refreshing and helpful than taking a step back and taking a deep breath. The best thing you can do for yourself is to think about the positive things, for example, ask yourself the following questions:

What do you like about my program?

How did being accepted into this program make you feel?

What made you pick this path in the first place?

Focus on the good parts. Don’t focus on the things you don’t like, focus on the things you do.

Think beyond your grades

A lot of doubts tend to stem from the grades you get. One or two bad grades really take a toll on you and your mental health, and it doesn’t help that you were already doubting your degree before you got these marks.

Take a minute and think about why you’re in university, why you moved out and landed on the path you’re on. You didn’t do all that just to graduate and get a shiny piece of paper with your name on it - you also did it because you wanted to learn new things, gain new skills, and the marks you get aren’t always a direct reflection of that. Just because someone is getting better marks than you doesn’t mean you’re failing and don’t belong in your program. Everyone is different and learns at different speeds.

If neither of those suggestions put you at ease, just take comfort in the fact that university/college isn’t the end-all, be-all. Re-evaluate your options, look into switching programs, meet with your academic advisor, and ask them for some advice - that’s what they’re there for. You can switch out, drop out, or defer, with each option having their own benefits. 

There are so many people that I’ve talked to that have said deciding to take a year off was one of the scariest things to admit, but it was the best decision of their lives. Maybe you want to work and make some money for a while, that’s okay too. There are so many job opportunities out there looking for fresh, new faces and skills. 

Talk to your parents or your siblings, get a second opinion. Try your best not to feel embarrassed or worried that they’re going to be mad at you, there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind. It’s hard making life-changing decisions when you’re so young, people grow and change and their interests and passions shift and that’s totally normal and can happen to anyone.