Life Lasts Longer Than Four Years
by Brooke Wolfenbarger and Tyler English | published Oct. 6th, 2020
Deciding what you want to study in college can be a daunting decision, but it is not one that you are trapped in. Countless students have changed their majors, but the fear and stress is not affected by its commonality — it is managed by the shared experiences of those who have gone through the process.
Two students, who have both changed their major and transferred schools, came together to write this piece. Here, they share their stories and help break down what they went through and what it is like on the other side.
Trial and Error
Growing up, my family gave me the urge to pursue medicine. They did not force me to pursue it, but my family simply existed in the medical world my whole life.
My mother works at a pediatrician's office. When I was young, I would play in the break room while I waited for my mother to finish her work. My brother and I liked to joke around and say it was our second home given how much time we spent there. Later, my mother and I started watching medical dramas together and medicine became our daily bread and butter.
In high school I was a member of a Health Science Academy where my curriculum centered around anatomy, medical terminology and emergency medical technician training. Needless to say, it was a pretty obvious choice for me to choose biology as my first major when entering college.
I began at St. John Fisher College and quickly became bored and irritated by the coursework. I realized that my passion lay in writing. I switched majors in the first week to English Education and then a month into the program I switched yet again to English.
My first year of college was nothing from what I expected it to be, so much so that I transferred schools and changed my major yet again. It took me two schools, three majors and three semesters to finally find a major that I wished to pursue.
Now here I sit writing this as a Journalism major and I am yet again unsure if I enjoy what I am studying.
In high school and growing up, there was never one clear career path that I wanted to pursue. At one point I wanted to be a teacher, at another point a marine biologist and at another an astrophysicist. I was never pushed into a career path by my parents, so when it came to my senior year I had to pick something — so why not space?
I started my college career down in Florida studying astronomy and astrophysics. I wasn’t enjoying my classes and the only one that I was excited to attend was my English class. At the end of my first semester, I looked into switching my major.
I had to decide between Communications or Journalism. People around me, specifically my parents, thought it was a better idea to go with Communications, since it was more broad. This could lead to a lot of different career options, so that's what I went with.
Then, in the middle of my second semester, I decided to transfer colleges and I found myself up north at RIT, still pursuing my Communications degree.
The next couple of years I liked what I was doing, but I wanted to learn more about journalism. I joined Reporter, which was the first club I had been apart of at RIT and it opened my eyes up to the world of writing and editing.
This semester I am a part of an internship called the VSFS Virtual Internship Program, which has also allowed me to grow as an editor. My passion was starting to grow because of these opportunities.
Changing majors again just didn’t feel right because as much as I wanted to be more focused on journalism, I also wanted to be done with school. I thought that even though I wasn’t specifically a Journalism major, I was still in a close enough field of study that would suffice.
Nothing is set in stone when you start college. Over the course of a year you may form a completely new group of friends, and that transition of finding where you belong is normal. However, finding where you belong in terms of a major can have added pressures that make the process appear more daunting than at first thought.
Changing your major should be viewed like finding your group of friends, or better yet — buying a car. You try out different makes and models and see what feels right to you. When I started to think about changing my major and transferring schools, I was terrified. Now I realize that it's okay!
Nobody expects you to have all the answers all of the time. Entering college at 18 years old, your interests may change by the time you're 25. Most college students barely know what they want to get for dinner.
There is a pressure in college that students put on themselves. We think that adults and those who have graduated college, loved their major or program and are still working in that field. In reality, adults are just as clueless as we are when it comes to knowing what to do with their lives. The best we can all say is that we are trying.
Life plans come about over time and through experiences. College is designed to give you a variety of these experiences to assist you in finding what you are passionate about and what makes you happy. It's about finding the right field you have an interest in and then maneuvering from there.
College is stressful — that's a fact. But it shouldn't be scary, and switching majors is not something that should be taken lightly or ignored. If you feel that your major is not right for you, listen to those thoughts. Figuring out what doesn’t make you happy is just another step in finding out what does.