Making life choices too young?

Deciding one’s major can be a difficult choice.  It can also be an intimidating one.  But what happens when one

The entrance to the Career Center, located in Driscoll Center South

changes their mind about their major after committing to it?  In a survey conducted by Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the biggest regrets deals with education.  Specifically, many adults wished that they had studied something different in college or followed their passions.  This wish is shared among the college students who participated in this survey.

Often times when students realize that their major is not the one for them, it is too late.  This brings up the question:  Are students too young to decide their majors?

Changing minds
At the beginning of her freshmen year at DU, Meaghan Connor was set on a pre-medical major.  However, near the end of the year, she changed her mind.

“I originally wanted to be pre-med but after a year of taking the courses, I realized that was not what I wanted to do with my life,” Connor said.

Her choice of major was not the only thing Connor wanted to change.  She also wanted to change what university she was attending.  Connor decided to attend DU because “[her] brother was going here and I wanted to follow him,” she said.

The experience she received at DU was not what she expected.  She knew wanted something more.  Near the end of her freshmen year, she transferred to Louisiana State University (LSU) because she wanted to be closer to friends and family.  She is in her junior year studying math.

Changing paths… can be okay
Although changing majors can be nerve wrecking, Mary Michael Hawkins, Director of the Career Center, approves it as long as a student is doing it for the right reasons.

Hawkins said that she encourages students to pursue what they are passionate in and “build a career around it.”

She also said when students change their minds about their majors, they need to figure out what they really want to do before they declare another one.  Additionally, Hawkins said there are plenty of resources located on campus so “you don’t have to do it alone.”

One path
Coming in as a freshman at DU, Amy Newman was undeclared.  But at the start of her sophomore year, she declared journalism as her major because she enjoyed writing.  Now as a senior she has not changed her major or regretted it.

“I’ve always known that I’ll be happy as a writer, so I never changed my major.  I may not necessarily come rich from it, but that’s okay,” Newman said.

Even though she will be happy writing, Newman also recognizes the fact that journalism is a difficult field to break into.

Too young?
While Newman is content with her major, she said she was “way too young to [choose her major] at 18.”  She continued and said she did not know what her best interests were at the time.

At 18- years old, it was difficult for Newman to see beyond the next week.  She said she feels as if most teenagers do not fully realize the weight of college decisions and how they can impact their life.

However, if Newman made these decisions now, she is not sure how they would be different.  She said that if she had gone to college at 22- years old, her current age, she would have different interests that would influence a different career path.

Despite this, Newman always knew that she loved writing long before she decided to make a career out of it.

Inside the Career Center, there is a wall that offers fliers on various majors with the different skills and occupation possibilities for each one

“Those are the kind of things that influence you in life and you can’t change that,” she said.

Connor shares a similar opinion to Newman.  She said she was too young to decide a major because she did not know what to expect from college and she is not as mature as she is currently.

If Connor had the opportunity to go to college now, it would be different.

“I would have started out from the beginning with my math major and I would have chosen a school very far away from where I live,” Connor said.

She also said that at 20- years old, she has more confidence and is more adventurous so she would not be timid about starting college.  Moreover, Connor would not have followed her brother to DU at this age, like she did when she was younger.

Taking a break
Hawkins promotes the idea of a gap year for students, whether it take place before college or a year after it begins.  During this gap year, students are able to think about what they want to do with their life and create a plan.

“Students seem to be more focused in what they want to do after they take some time off,” Hawkins said and they are ready to settle down and work.

Hopeful for the doubtful
            For students who are unsure of their majors, Hawkins suggests that they take a career assessment test (costing $25) with the career center.  This test will help students determine their strengths, what kind of work environment they like, and offer various suitable occupations.

Hawkins also strongly encourages students to do internships to determine if they are on the right path.

“I also tell my students to talk to people in their field of interest to get more insight,” she said.

Another piece of advice she offers is for students to look beyond the title of their major and focus on skills that are transferable to other areas.


Additional Information

CollegeBoard–  Offers information about picking the right college

PennState Website–   Diffuses certain myths about choosing a major

USAToday Article–  Explores the question if college is not for everyone

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