College is often painted to be the best four years of your life. It’s meant to be a time of self discovery, learning, and forming lifelong friendships. While this sometimes may be true, it is also a time full of making mistakes, questioning your decisions, and ultimately finding your path. Glorifying the college experience neglects the struggles that many of us face during our college education. Many of us don’t have a clear path and need to take time in college to explore opportunities. Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to plan our life out, we should be encouraged to explore.
With just two quarters under my belt at the University of Washington, I’ve come to find that very few people have an exact plan of what they want to do. This has helped me embrace not knowing what my future will look like. Each class you take can change your perspective or future plans. I know the direction I want to take with my studies, but I’m open to new experiences and opportunities that I might not know about yet. If you don’t know what you want to study, that’s okay too! There are many opportunities to explore and find something you want to study.
Taking introductory or survey classes allow you to learn about a wide variety of topics within an area of study. This can help you determine if something might be something you want to study or not. This quarter, I took an introductory architecture class. While I don’t plan on studying architecture, it was an interesting class! These classes can also help fill electives and allow you to gain a new perspective from your college experience.
Seminars are also a great way to explore a subject. They usually have a more narrow focus. They can expose you to new ideas in a subject you already like or you can take them to explore a specific topic that you don’t know much about. Since they’re usually only one to two credits, it’s a low stakes way to learn something new. I came into UW planning to major in public health. Then I realized that I might want to focus on nutrition within the major. I decided to take a nutrition seminar to learn more, and I really enjoyed it! I also got to learn about more opportunities to get involved with nutrition-related organizations on campus and in Seattle, so it was a great learning experience for me to take this class.
I definitely am still figuring things out as I go, and that is totally okay! It’s important to keep an open mind when coming to college and allow yourself to experience opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Changing your mind or altering your plans is likely to happen, and we all should accept and embrace that. So many people change their majors and careers even. What you study in college does not define you, but the people you meet, the lessons you learn, and the experiences you gain do.