Truth be told, looking back on at starting my college experience, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing! I didn’t even truly understand what a major was. I was in a situation where I really should have reached out for help to understand how to succeed in this new environment. Even though my journey was very bumpy, I did manage to figure things out along the way! Below are some key aspects of career/major exploration that I learned during my journey and I hope that sharing some of this will help you reflect on your own experiences and help you avoid some of the bumps I stumbled upon.
1st Major: Physical Therapy
Why I changed: It took a while for it to set in but I finally acknowledged that I was not interested in doing the length of education required to pursue this career.
Wisdom: Acknowledge the education requirements of your career path.
2nd Major: Massage Therapy
Why I changed: Although I really liked the similarities it had with physical therapy and I truly loved my first semester, I panicked about not being able to keep up with the physical demand of this career path.
Wisdom: I should have talked with the program coordinator about my concerns instead of just panicking and deciding to change my major on my own without consulting anyone. Please consider talking it out with a career consultant, mentor, someone you trust, etc just to help yourself really think through the process.
3rd Major: Pre-Nursing
Why I changed: I loved the biology courses I took in massage therapy and I really enjoyed helping others in my personal life so I thought nursing would be a great fit. I quickly realized I was very skilled in the lecture part but not the lab practical portions. I struggled applying the knowledge in this capacity and was very nervous I would not perform well with applying the medicine to patients.
Wisdom: Sometimes when you have low confidence in your skills, you just need mentorship and to gain experience to help you push through some of that self-doubt. Other times, you have to ask yourself if you really feel like this just isn’t a good fit for you. Nursing was not a good fit for me.
4th Major: Health-Related Studies
Why I Changed: Honestly, this was my ‘I have no idea what I am doing’ major. I knew I didn’t want to do the nursing courses but liked the biology classes, so this made the most sense to me.
Wisdom: At this point, I really should have talked with someone about my future plans. I probably would have been told that changing your major in college is totally normal (which would have eased some of my anxiety) and also probably be guided on how to make stronger informed decisions going forward. Even though I was learning a lot through trial and error, talking with an expert would have shown me other things to consider that I had not thought of yet. So I encourage you, even if you have a lot of your future figured out, still speak with a professional just in case they can offer you insights you have never considered!
5th Major: Biology Education
Why I Changed: The one thing consistent throughout my academics was that I enjoyed biology classes. Outside of that, I was also tutoring 6 courses and really enjoyed helping students in that capacity. This combination led me to study biology education at another school. But …… I despise chemistry. I had dropped it in the health-related studies major and that should have been my red flag. But I figured I’d give it another shot since I was aiming to be a biology teacher. As I was struggling with chem, I was also newly falling in love with psychology. The education portion of my degree required me to take ‘adolescent psychology’ and I had never felt so good at / interested in an academic subject before. I was very grateful I was in that class because I eventually had my breaking point with chem after screwing up an assignment and decided to drop the class and change my major to psychology!
Wisdom: Some career paths have a very specific course curriculum you have to do in order to graduate. Make sure you spend time reflecting on those required courses to make sure this is for you! For me, I really did not like chemistry and had to do all the way up to organic. It was not worth it for me!
6th Major: Psychology
Why I Still Struggled: So I absolutely loved this major! I had a blast learning the material and knew this was the right path for me. The part I still struggled with is that I never spent time taking this a step further to figure out what career paths I want to do from this major. Honestly, I was so tired just from all the major switches, I didn’t want to go through the struggle of figuring out what career I wanted to do. But, that was a big mistake on my part. The overwhelment I felt then was nothing compared to the overwhelment I felt during the 7 months after graduating where I had no job or idea where I was going!
Wisdom: Major and career exploration can be tedious and overwhelming but they are so important! You are spending a lot of time and money on this journey; it should be worth all that investment! If you are feeling lost, overwhelmed, confused, etc,, it’s okay! Those feelings are often part of the process of figuring out something that is going to play a large role in your life, like a career! But please consider reaching out to get some help! I’ve seen countless times in my profession how just one conversation can change things completely around and help individuals feel re-empowered about their career journey. If you are looking for those kinds of conversations, the Fleishman Center is a great place to start!