What Happens When You Pick A Major Based On Money

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The day had finally arrived when I received my acceptance to Penn State for pre-med. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do for a living, but I did know I wanted a job where I could make as much money as possible. After all, nothing feels better than earning a lot while helping people. Although high school science never particularly interested me, I was so excited for this new experience. I thought that I could learn to love it if I gave it some time.

At New Student Orientation, I paired up with an advisor who told me that if I had any doubts about my major, I should split up the types of classes I take. As someone who struggles for hours on end every night deciding what to get for dinner, I took the indecisive track and decided I would only take a biology class before I committed to a pre-med curriculum.

In high school, I studied for finals the day before and never missed the Honor Roll. But from the moment I stepped foot into the 250-person lecture, I could tell I’d need to prepare for this class like never before. After classes ended everyday, I’d find my spot in the library, take out my textbook and highlighters and get to work. I completed my homework and quizzes, made study guides and flashcards galore and highlighted the text in different colors. You’d think a college student being up at 1 a.m. on a Saturday as a typical weekend, but you would never expect them to spend that time in the library. I only left the room to get another iced tea so that I’d have sugar to keep me awake. The only thoughts in my head consisted of me thinking of ways to differentiate mitosis from meiosis.

But when my first test came back, I found out I’d failed. However, this did not discourage me. I decided I had to try harder. So I stayed in the library until early hours of the morning and continued to give this pre-med major my best shot. I spent nights on the weekend inside that very quiet, indistinguishable room in the library. The next test came back. Another failure. I’d never received such poor test scores in my life. I continued to attend classes with the hope that I’d turn things around. However, test after test showed me that it wasn’t going to get any better. I was doing well in every other aspect of the class, but tests just left me more discouraged each time.

When the final came around, I’d studied more for this test than any other in my entire life. I felt moderately confident in my ability and I hoped that this would be my best yet. But it wasn’t. I finished the entire semester without passing a single test. I’d spent hours reading about nucleotides, ribosomes and endoplasmic reticuli, but to this day, the only thing I remember is that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

My report card came back and I thought for sure that I had failed. I checked my grades online: It was a C. I may or may not have actually cried—I passed the class having failed every single test. So, this left me with a difficult decision. Do I make a lifestyle out of this class and continue with pre-med, or do I choose something else that I found more natural? In the end, I decided that I was not okay with spending hours studying only to get grades that I didn’t find satisfactory.

Bio 110 weeds out the kids that can’t handle science as a major. And you know what? I simply couldn’t handle it. Sure, I made it through the class by a miracle, but I was NOT interested in any kind of major that made me feel as miserable as that class. I wanted to have an enjoyable college experience and pre-med wouldn’t give me that. So I said goodbye to a six-figure salary out of college happily. If I’d finished up college as a science major, I would’ve hated myself for the rest of my life. I prioritize my happiness over any amount of money.

In the end, I may have learned nothing about biology, but I learned something about myself. I can’t make a career out of science. But I know I’ll be able able to find something I am truly passionate about.

Ryan is currently in his fourth year at Penn State majoring in journalism. A native New Yorker, Ryan enjoys all things New York, including, but not limited to, the city, the Yankees, and pizza. He spends most of his free time at the gym, listening to music, or probably eating.

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