College is a whirlwind. From the moment your college experience begins, your life is opened up to a multitude of opportunities both in and out of the classroom. At the end of the day, college is not only a place to learn but a place to grow as individuals and to make memories. We do this in part by putting ourselves out there, maybe by answering a question in class, going through recruitment, or even talking to the person in front of us in line for coffee. However, if you’re anything like me, you may have thought you had it all figured out before you even stepped onto campus. Specifically that you knew what major was best for you. If you’re thinking that your current field of study may not be what you want, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate. And try not to worry, many of us, including me, have been there too!
Accept Your Feelings
First things first; acknowledge and accept the fact that you’re not enjoying your studies. That’s okay! Switching your field of study can be a terrifying concept. Change is confusing, complicated, and positive all at once. We may grow up thinking that there is only one idea and one path for our future. Maybe you’ve had your heart set on pre-med or political science since middle school. I personally thought that I was locked into photojournalism when I transferred schools. Well, guess what? There is always time to rethink and reevaluate, and you never know what your options are unless you ask. Take a minute and step back, and maybe make a pros and cons list and a list of what’s going through your head. Try and know the difference between a difficult foundation class versus a major that doesn’t fit who you are. And, discomfort in your classes may also be a product of a lack of joy in your life outside the classroom. Once you admit those feelings to yourself and visualize it on paper, you’ll probably feel a lot better! (Trust me.)
Reach Out To a Trusted Individual(s)
Now that you’ve had time to think, it’s time to talk to someone about it. Not only should you discuss matters and make an appointment with your advisor, but maybe you can call a friend, sorority sister, parent, etc. Tell them what’s going on. Be honest. The thing is, colleges want you to succeed. Your peers and professors want what’s best for you. And in order to do that, you need to verbalize your concerns. No one really has it all figured out, contrary to what social media may tell us. I would also recommend reaching out to your career counseling office because it’s these people’s job to help you find a field that suits you!
Research, Research, Research
You know that college website you probably stalked when making your initial college decision? Go browse it again! (Unfortunately, Buzzfeed quizzes are only so helpful in times like this.) Look at what majors are offered, and cross-reference that with the required classes. Maybe there’s something there that you hadn’t ever thought about. See if you can take some classes to try out different things and reach out to your peers in those perspective majors. You won’t know your options until you explore them. Maybe by taking some of these steps, things will be easier!
Something to Remember
Apparently, when you graduate from high school, you’re supposed to know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life. The last monumental decision I had made before that was to shop for a prom dress. (When you think about it, this concept seems pretty far-fetched for any eighteen-year-old.) Some people know what they want, some people only think they do. It’s just as much okay to be in the “don’t” category as it is to be in the “know” category. Your experience and journey are still just as valid regardless.
For example, I initially went to art school. I realized I didn’t enjoy taking only studio-based classes, I missed the liberal arts. In going to art school, I isolated one aspect of myself, only to realize I have other dreams and passions that weren’t just behind the camera. I ended up transferring to another college that offered photojournalism in a more traditional university setting. It seemed like the perfect fit, especially since the school has a Greek Life community which I love. Little did I know that the school truly was a great fit, but my major was not. I realized that photography was something I wanted to do for fun, not something I wanted to spend the rest of my life practicing for an income or a grade. I knew I needed to change my major, and I knew that my lifelong passion for helping others was leading me to be a teacher. I was scared to start the process, and a semester later I’m so glad that I did. I am now studying to be a high school history teacher, and I’m so much happier for it!
Some of the best advice I’ve ever received came from a professor at my first college. She said, “have the courage to ask for help when you need it.” Sometimes, things aren’t going to go the way you expect or want them too. Life is full of curveballs and your mindset changes everything. And, by having the courage to ask for help, things will get better.
- Feel those feelings!
- Talk to someone who you trust. Let people be there for you.
- Get on the research grind and figure out your options.
- Make an appointment with your advisor and career counselors (if applicable.)
- Take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay. You got this!
Xx, Mary Lena Taylor
RIT, Zeta Tau Alpha