As the weather gets nicer, I begin to notice more and more tour groups trekking their way across campus. Just the other day I found a random family wandering the business college, mother toting a bright yellow admissions folder.
Yup. Looks like it’s college acceptance season.
Thinking back to this season two years ago (wow, two years ago already!) I don’t think I ever imagined myself being where I am today, sitting in this dorm at this university, with this pile of books and unfinished homework infront of me. Actually, my local state university was the last place I wanted spend these “best four years.”
From the second half of my junior year in high school up until the beginning of May my senior year I had one and only one thing in mind that I wanted for my college career. I wanted to be an industrial engineering major. So badly. So much that tears were shed. And it’s not often that I cry. Honestly.
But the University of Delaware does not offer that major. So I settled for Operations Management when defaulting to the school in the state that I so wanted to get away from, skeptical of the supposed similarities. I could not call myself an engineering major anymore. And what was I doing in the business college?
For the past two semesters my advisor has asked me if I was okay with my switch. And you know what? Yes, I am. I am so okay with it. So okay that I’ve taken up to recruiting people to my major because it’s the best major ever. And I haven’t even gotten into my major’s course work yet.
There’s always those “what-ifs.” What if I switched to a different type of engineering?
I wouldn’t be able to study something I’ve always had an interest in – the humanities – with my Asian Studies minor. Remind me why I wanted to be an engineer when I dislike studying the natural science so much? But don’t get me started on the math versus science issue. They are not the same thing. Nevertheless, I am able to pick up a Math minor along the way as well.
I believe I wouldn’t have discovered what I really want to do, my ultimate life goal. I wouldn’t have time to find out that I really wanted to start a non-profit to help minority women because frankly, I’d probably be drowning in calculus and differential equations problem sets.
So where is this going?
My point is that goals change. You can’t expect an 18-year-old to know exactly what he/she wants to do with the rest of his/her life. Rather than locking yourself into something you could potentially become unhappy with (even if you believe you know what you want to do with the rest of your life, but especially if you are unsure) leave a little room for exploration.
Here’s a few things I’ve picked up in my two years in college:
- A major is just a label. Don’t be upset if you don’t get what you want. Don’t expect that what you will do what you study. People always end up working in a different field than what they studied in college.
- Don’t get tunnel vision. Keep your eyes opened. You might find something you’re passionate about in the least likely places. It it may be completely different from what you believed you wanted to do for the rest of your life. It’s okay.
- Make the most with what you’ve got. Take advantage of every opportunity. It’s just another chance to find what you love or realize that you actually don’t love it. And you’ve only got four years to do it. It goes by faster than you think.
- Receive an education. Obvious, right? Too often people are too obsessed about making the mark but what good is a degree if you haven’t received an education? You do not go to college to regurgitate facts from a a text book. Just because you got an A on a test does not mean you’ve learned anything. Take what you’ve read and heard, look at the world around you, and raise a question. This is how the world changes.
I mainly wrote about the academic side of college, probably because it’s such a hot topic back home with my brother who’s currently a junior (if I hear one more thing about the SATs…) But always consider the overall “culture” of the college and what kind of extra-curricular activities are offered. I shiver just thinking that I might have attended a college without a marching band.
So for all you high school seniors out there, I’m not trying to scare you but this is probably the biggest decision you’ve had to make so far, right? Keep in mind that just because a school has prestige, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Rankings and retention rates can only do so much. This is just what I have come to think because of my personal experience, but no matter where you end up, I believe that if you approach college with an open mind, you will find satisfaction. In the end, it’s only four years of your life and it’s up to you to make the most of it.