Art by Christine Nelson
Your major is a choice; often, this is one of the biggest decisions a college student is faced with. People often choose a major based on a variety of reasons: the title, salary, what their parents want them to do, etc. I personally chose my first major for the completely wrong reasons.
I thought I wanted to work in the medical field so I declared Nutritional Science, freshman year, as my major; and it wasn’t until senior year that I finally switched to journalism.
As I approach graduation, I’ve reflected on why it was that I continued to pursue a major that I hated, and it boils down to my pride — I wanted to be a “science major” purely because of the stereotypical “ooh’s and aah’s” that came with saying, “Yeah, I’m a science major.”
Long story short, I failed; and not just a few tests but every single one leaving me with no choice but to switch majors. I had wasted my parents’ money and three years worth of my own energy and time studying something that I didn’t enjoy even a little.
Words can’t explain how much I wish I had changed my major sooner; if I could redo the three years I spent as a science major, and instead, pursue something I’m passionate about, my college career would have been significantly more fulfilling.
I, like several of my college peers, initially chose to be a science major but changed my mind. Accordingly, many students come to see that science is either too difficult or not a good fit for them, ultimately resolving to switch — this seems to be a theme across universities nationwide.
A study at Wake Forest University shows that the introductory science and math classes gave the lowest grades, with chemistry classes giving the lowest, according to an article in New York Times titled “Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard).”
Education, English and language courses displayed the highest grades, averaging from 3.33 to 3.36 out of 4; the chemistry department averaging 2.78 and the mathematics department averaging 2.90.
Science classes aren’t for everyone, and, as I eventually discovered, my brain wasn’t wired to succeed in science; some peoples’ are, but mine clearly wasn’t.
I felt an overwhelming sense of relief when I switched my major to Journalism; I was confident in class again, and suddenly I was excited to get a graded assignment back. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was doing something I didn’t enjoy — it really takes a toll on your mind when you try hard and fail even harder.
Additionally, this transition from studying something I “wanted” to do to something I “liked” doing has introduced me to passions that I never knew I had.
I love writing, photography, interviews, music, social justice and I’ve always been passionate about the truth. However, prior to making the switch, I simply failed in connecting the dots, because that’s exactly who a journalist is — an informant of the truth.
It’s overwhelming sometimes when you have so many interests or passions and you don’t know which direction to take, but that’s just life — sometimes you just have to be OK with not knowing what you want to do the second you graduate.
When your work is your passion, it’s thrilling, and it opens up a lot of doors that you never knew existed. I’m lucky in that I found a passion for something so early on, but I almost wasn’t so lucky.
It’s so important to ask yourself what it is that you like to do — helping needy people, responding to orders, the outdoors, etc.; questions like this bring you closer to your passion and lead you to a career that will inspire you, and help you grow as an individual. Life’s too short to spend your days doing something you dread — that’s just a waste.
Do what’s best for you, because, at the end of the day, the only person you can 100 percent count on is yourself — not your parents, not a significant other, not your best friend — you. Therefore, be nice to yourself; do something that makes you feel like you’ve exerted energy on something that’s meaningful to you because there’s nothing more satisfying than that.
Follow Berkley Mason on Twitter: @youcberkley