Every time I head back home to New York for the holidays my family, my friends’ parents and over interested kids from high school bombard me with, “How’s school going?” “Are you happy?” “What are your plans for after?” They fire these questions so quickly and so often that by junior year I formed fairly simple mechanical responses: “It’s good,” “Yes, I love it” and “I’m still figuring things out.”
But recently, I actually took the time to think about how I truly feel about my college experience. With graduation around the corner, I started thinking about how college has prepared me for this “real world” everybody talks about. While everyone else grabs their pompoms and acts as their school’s number one cheerleader, I’m sitting in the stands feeling as though the University of Florida education curriculum has failed me. It pushed me towards complacency, and I’ve created a life that ignores half of my interests.
At freshman orientation, UF advisors told me that “Not knowing what you wanted to do is fine.” What they didn’t tell me: is that if “undecided” doesn’t expire after one semester in college, your “four-year experience” quickly becomes five or six. My parent’s encouraged me to declare finance as my major. Majoring in finance leads to a reliable, respectable career, and I would still have time for art and English on the side. Right…?
CM’s guide to the finance major
Wrong. The different colleges at UF don’t work well together. I wasn’t a registered art major, so taking an art elective was impossible. I wasn’t an English major, so advisors told me taking upper division English classes was a waste of time. I attempted to complete a dual degree in art and finance, but my advisors told me I wouldn’t graduate in four years. Then I made my art major a minor, just to realize the minor consisted of only two additional art classes. I wanted more in my education.
I dropped my art major, switched to English, endured many long conversations about job security and finally decided to pursue a dual degree in English and finance. The regulations and rules surrounding a dual degree were frustrating and I honestly felt the university discouraged pursuing multiple interests; they tried to tell me my education plan should only focus on one thing.
But walking out of college with a job isn’t my only reason for agreeing to this four-year education contract. I obviously wanted to live out Asher Roth’s song “I Love College” in the flesh. But more importantly, I wanted a liberal education. I wanted to study philosophy, art, science, and finance, but when I decided on Finance as a major during freshman orientation, I was pigeonholed. I love finance and problem solving–and I love where I am because of it–but I wish I could integrate my two degrees more seamlessly. I wish my English professors didn’t curse out the corporate world that I would soon be a part of, and I wish my business professors didn’t put down the liberal arts as futile and pointless.
This polarizing education forced me to pick a side, and I allowed this perceived dichotomy of finance and English to dictate my life decisions. I got an internship and then accepted a job in finance. It wasn’t until I signed the papers that I realized I completely placed my English degree on the backburner. Signing the papers hit me like a Monday morning; I created a post-grad life in which I was, in essence, only a finance major. So, I decided to pursue both finance and English. I’m going to continue writing and publishing my work as I continue my work in the finance market; there’s no reason why I can’t work toward being a published author as I work toward conquering the world of business.
When did comfort become synonymous with success? Comfort means you aren’t pushing boundaries. And doesn’t our education system usually tell us to do so?
I shouldn’t have picked a side, and UF shouldn’t have policies and regulations in place that discourage developing multiple interests at once. In our university education system, and in life, people follow “the normal route.” You know, the one that’s well paved, maintained and “safe.” This road looks appealing and easy. But we see people follow this path all the time, so let’s try something new. My love for art and math don’t make me indecisive, unsuccessful or scattered. They allow me to create new ideas and progress. Step outside of your comfort zone, pursue a multifaceted life and be a trail blazer.