I Hate My Major... Now What?

Since I was five years old, I was dead-set on becoming a doctor. I was great at science and I loved learning about medicine. I even had my parents send me off to an expensive, extremely selective conference for students interested in medicine (or, as my best friend called it, “nerd camp”). I wrote eloquent essays for my college applications about my passion for becoming a doctor someday and how I couldn’t imagine myself as anything else. Then I got into college and things changed.


Subconsciously, I knew I wasn’t in the right place from the start. I was absolutely uninterested in biology and chemistry, but I convinced myself that what I was learning was the most fascinating information imaginable (even though it wasn't). And even though I pretended I was happy, I was miserable. Over the next few months, it became harder and harder for me to ignore how much I hated the path I was on, and I was terrified. I had already started on the pre-med track, and I was under the impression that even though it was only the first semester of my freshman year, I would be behind if I switched to something else. The other issue I was confronted with was that I had no clue about what that ‘something else’ would be – if I wasn't going to be a doctor, what the hell would I be? 


While I don't have it all figured out yet, here's what I did: 


First off, I accepted that my major just wasn’t right for me. Looking back, that was the hardest part. When you’ve devoted so much of your life to something and you’ve been dead-set on it for so long, letting it go is heartbreaking. Pre-medicine students are subjected to what are cruelly dubbed “weed-out classes,” which are classes that are supposed to be so hard that they separate the students who will make it to medical school from those who won’t, and pigs were gonna fly before I was going to let myself be ‘weeded out’. At first, I felt crushed that I’d let that happen before the hard part had even begun. It took a long time for me to realize that I hadn’t been ‘weeded out’ at all – I had realized that medicine and I just weren’t meant to be, and that’s okay. Coming to terms with the fact that what you had planned is different from what your life actually has in store is hard, but don’t beat yourself up about it.


This next part was scary at first – figuring out what else I was supposed to do with my life. I had been so focused on being a doctor for so long that I never stopped to consider what else I’d be good at and I let myself think that there were no other options for me. After a lot of freak-outs and cry sessions, I had the sense to actually take a look at my school’s list of majors available to see what my choices were. I was surprised to find that there were so many options! And many I could see myself falling in love with. I could major in advertising, vocal performance, economics! I could even minor in songwriting because, well, why not? I could work for a major corporation or a television network or even be my own boss and start my own company; the choices were endless. You don’t have to pick one right away – I still haven't – but it’s important to get a general idea of what you’d like to do so you can go to your academic advisor with a sense of the area you’d like to go into, that way, they can get you in the right classes. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be set in stone.


If you want to go a little further in figuring out what major to choose, you can sign up for aptitude testing. My roommate, who experienced a similar mid-college crisis, did that after having doubts about becoming a pharmacist. Now she’s on track to become an actuary, and she’s confident she’s headed in the right direction.


I don’t know where I’m going, but I have a general idea, and for now, that’s all I need. And now I never have to take another math class, which is cause for celebration in and of itself. If you feel like your major isn’t right for you, drop it and take some time to find out what direction you actually want to go in.