An Open Letter to The Student Doubting Their Major

College is filled with difficult tasks. Declaring your major will be one of the first choices you must make in college. Some students have known all their lives what dream job they aspire to pursue. Others have the difficult task of figuring out their career goals during their time in college.

To those of you doubting the path you’re taking in college, I’m here to tell you it’ll all be OK. A lot of us have been there before. It’s not easy choosing your major. There are so many different things you can study – from journalism to aerospace engineering and dance. If you’re doubting your current major, this one goes out to you.

Reminder: Major ≠ Career

Just a reminder (I even need to tell myself this at times) – what you’re studying doesn’t necessarily equate to your career goals. For example, I’m currently majoring in journalism. I’m starting to think about switching my major again (I was a telecommunications major on the news track before). Luckily, in my college, the majors are all similar in some way. My career goal has always been related to the entertainment industry in some form. I love celebrities and entertainment news, but I’m not exactly sure what I want to do with my passions. Fellow students have told me many times you can major in just about anything and still achieve your goals.

In my case, I may not enjoy the journalism track, but there are other options for me to choose from, such as the telecommunications production track. I may not receive a background in writing or reporting like journalism or news students, but the skills I can learn in production classes would be just as important for my hopeful career.

It is not only through your degree that you land your dream career. Another way to land a dream job is through internships or work experience. Internships allow you to get hands-on experience in a field you may not necessarily be studying. The College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida offers immersion experience courses which give you hands-on experience in the media industry. One of the immersion experiences I’m currently a part of is the radio station GHQ. I’m an on-air radio personality for GHQ, which allows me to experience the radio industry without being a news major.

The takeaway: you don’t need to major in journalism to be a journalist, for instance. There are people in the industry who have diverse educational backgrounds and through work experience, internships or even by luck, they landed their dream job. There are always multiple routes you can take in life, even in your career. Sift through your available opportunities and decide which type of experiences you’d like during your time in college. You never know what interests may spark a new possible career goal.

Study something you enjoy doing

If you enjoy writing, choose a major in the communications field or the English department. If you enjoy science or math, look into the various branches of the STEM field. There’s something for everyone out there. It can be overwhelming thinking about the different courses of action you can take to reach your goals. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to reflect on what you’re interested in first. Think about something you’re passionate about and how you can incorporate that into a possible career.

If you’re unhappy with your current major, reflect on why you chose to study that in particular. Was it your choice, or are you trying to please someone else? In the end, it’s your life. You should do what makes you happy. If that means majoring in something in the fine arts department, go for it! Don’t try to please someone else by majoring in something you don’t enjoy doing just so you will have a high-paying job. You’re in college to have a career you may or may not have for the rest of your life. It’s necessary that you have some interest in what you’re studying or else your time in college will be miserable. Going back to my first point, what you study in college doesn’t have to be the career you will have in the future. Your experiences and how you apply your knowledge and degree are what gets you to the career you want. Your major is merely a foundation for the career you aspire to have. Enjoy what you’re studying because if you’ll be taking classes in this field for years, you should at least have a slight interest in what you’re learning.

Don’t worry about going off-track or graduating late

Would you rather graduate on-time and hate your career, or take the time to figure out what you love doing? I’d assume you’d prefer the latter.

It’s okay to take your time and figure out what you like learning about. A friend of mine spent her first year of college taking engineering classes. She took one communications class the next fall and decided to change her major to telecommunications.

It’s a good idea to take classes outside of your current major if you’re unsure about your major. It allows you to learn about other possible fields and may spark your interest in something you would’ve never thought about before.

College is a time to experience new things. Unlike high school, you have the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge about certain topics that you may not have been exposed to before. College is the time to make mistakes. I encourage you to try out a wide range of classes or join clubs of interest to you. Getting involved on campus is a great way to dive into different experiences without the burden of extra coursework or possibly being off-track for graduation.

Whether you graduate in two years, four years or even six years, you will earn that degree! It’s not about how long it took you to receive your degree but about the effort that you put into it. Taking your time in college is important not only to figure out what job you aspire to have but also to gain experience. Use your setback to your advantage. If you’re behind a semester because you switched your major, look at it as a positive. You no longer have to suffer taking classes you dreaded. Now you’ll enjoy what you’re studying and it’ll all be worth it in the end!

Everything will be okay

It’s important to remind yourself that it’ll all be okay. In the end, everything will work out. Don’t dwell on minor (or even major) setbacks. Comparing yourself to fellow students can be intimidating, so don’t let other students’ successes bring you down.

I know so many students in the College of Journalism and Communications who have had many internships at reputable media outlets. I’m very happy for them, but it also makes me feel behind compared to my peers. I tend to compare myself to my fellow journalism majors who have multiple internships and seem to have their life together.

Everyone has a different time frame. There are first-year students with multiple internships and there are fourth-year students scrambling to land even one internship. Everyone goes at their own pace. It’s okay to take time for yourself to reflect on your goals. If you’d like to take a gap year, that’s okay too! You’ll eventually receive your degree. There shouldn’t be a race to graduate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to graduate quickly, don’t let anyone influence your choices except for you. You’re in control of your life. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. There’s no rush to finish college. Take your time and figure out what you’re interested in and choose a major that is right for you.

To the student doubting their major, I’m right there with you! We’ll make it through, and one day, we’ll receive our degrees. For now, here’s to the difficult and overwhelming journey of deciding what we want to do for the rest of our lives.