I have always excelled at school. Passing the most difficult classes with minimal effort was my specialty. However, while many subjects interested me, school was never enjoyable. After graduation, I didn’t want to go to college, especially being that my only reasonable choice was in my hometown: San Diego. I wanted to get as far away as possible from my city, so San Diego State University was the last choice on my list. San Diego wasn’t a bad place or SDSU a bad school– I just really wanted a change.
However, it was my only option to avoid suffering from crippling debt.
Before even starting college, the signs of failure were apparent. During the summer after high school graduation, I got an email from a program on campus offering $500 to anyone who participated in their pre-calculus preparation course. Horrible at math, broke and pre-calculus a mandatory course for my Computer Science major, I applied and got accepted.
We took a placement test on the first day. Completing the test first out of 25 students, I left 80 percent blank and scored a 7.5 out of 80 possible points. I simply had to improve.
While my friends explored campus on their free time, I was in the library doing math problems over and over, and it paid off. On our last day the professor had us retake the placement test to track our improvement; this time I scored a 70.5 out of 80. While I felt proud and accomplished, it was only pre-calculus. Math would only get harder as I continued with the major.
It didn’t get much better as the semester commenced: I was struggling, lacked any form of a social life and hated my classes.
The idea of paying to study a subject I couldn’t stand infuriated me. Here, I was solving parabolas and staring at ones and zeros while my true passions lied in other things. As an artist at heart, I wanted to drop out to focus on my creative pursuits but I knew a degree was important to my success.
College became a prison full of stress and confinement—until the day I was set free. It all happened at Subway, when a conversation sparked up between me and the man ahead of me in line. We were engaging in average small talk until he began telling me about his aching depression. After asking him what fueled his stress, I found that his Computer Science major was the culprit; he was in his 3rd year. We decided to have lunch together and it turned out that he had grown up down the street from me, went to the same high school and was also an artist.
He explained with few smiles on his face that he wished he’d switched his major to art. I didn’t know how to react. How could I possibly tell him about my situation? I had time to change. He was stuck, had dedicated three miserable years studying something he hated.
I went home that night and sat my parents down to tell them about this crazy experience. I told my dad—who was set on me studying computer science—and he told me the last thing I would ever expect: that it was a sign, and he supported my desire to study what I loved. The following semester I changed my major to Art—after failing many midterms and finals in Computer Science. However, my journey to find a major didn’t end there.
Finding art to also be a difficult major, I came to understand quickly that it wasn’t for me.
Slow-working, I lacked natural talents compared to my counterparts who could make a masterpiece out of anything. My goal for that semester turned into a search for a better fitting major: a subject that I loved and could thrive in.
Searching through all the majors my school had to offer, I looked into any that sounded even the slightest bit interesting. I did research, asked questions and dedicated countless hours each day until the right major appeared; that’s when I finally came across Comparative Literature.
Although I was an artist, writing was my forte. I made music, wrote poetry, always emerged as one of the best writers in my classes and, on top of all that, I loved it. Even in elementary school, I’d use recess as time to write. Comparative Literature was meant for me all along, but I just hadn’t realized it, until I met my advisor.
Bright colors always catch my attention and when I visited the comparative literature advisor’s office, it was like a whole other world. Books overflowed his bookshelves, paintings and toys covered his walls and desks; this was where I belonged. I asked him the golden question of college—what can I do with this degree—and he responded with the biggest smile on his face, “anything and everything.”
That next semester was a life changing experience. I actually began to enjoy school. I loved going to class and doing homework, even if I was writing until midnight with a class at 8 a.m. Enjoying school never seemed like a possibility, but I managed to change that. To find something I was good at made me feel comfortable about life after graduation. It became clear to me and was now my reality that college is wonderful when you find something you love and are good at, but still have room to learn and grow.