Many of us are convinced that we know exactly what we want coming into college. We think that we want to be in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field, get a STEM job, make lots of money, possibly marry the love of our life, have kids, retire and ride off into the sunset. Unfortunately, most of the time life doesn’t go so perfectly. Besides our friends and peers, there are other places that we can and should look to for guidance such as professors, academic advisors, school organizations and counselors. There are lots of stellar people at our disposal. Ultimately, the advice we choose to follow is up to us.
1. Double Major? Have No Fear
The thought of 60 credits is pretty terrifying for many students, and so people are often turned off by the idea of double majoring. “Don’t be afraid to double major – especially if it’s for practicality reasons. Own it if that’s what you want to do,” said Samantha Gordon, Resident Director for a freshman dorm at Boston College. Many classes actually count for two different requirements (your major and core requirement), and if you get stuck taking summer classes, it might not be as bad if it’s helping to cover the second major you were so anxious to add. Ultimately, double majoring gives you the chance to study two things that you love or to help you discover what your main passion might be.
2. External Approval Takes Time
Being in the right major feels like putting on a shoe that was tailored specifically for you. It’s what gets you jumping out of bed and to class each morning (maybe not with enthusiasm, but at least you’re up). If you’re majoring in something because your parents wanted you to, then you probably aren’t doing it right—and probably struggling to crawl out of bed some days. As long as you believe in yourself and are working hard at what you’re studying, then your parents will eventually see how happy it makes you. “You can find a mentor on campus rather than going to unsupportive parents or things like that. Parents will learn how to manage on what you’re doing,” Gordon said.
3. It’s Okay to Change Your Mind
Many of us come into college thinking that we have the four-year plan on lock. Not looking at all the options around you, though, can limit the experience. For instance, you might find a major you like even more than your first, at which point you end up with a kick-a** second major. “After I dropped pre-med, it opened up pathways to different things I could do. It was scary since it was the reason that I immigrated to the United States, but in the end, I was able to have a lot of different experiences and to get a job helping students at Boston College,” said Erika Kiyono, counselor at Boston College’s Learning to Learn Center. Some majors prevent students from taking a few electives; so if you feel like you might be passionate about another major or interest, don’t be scared to change.
4. Use the Core to Your Advantage
No one is telling you to major in one of the subjects that core classes cover, but if your school requires you to take a list of core classes—your basic social science, math and English classes—use it to your advantage. “Embrace the core!” said Margret Turnbull, philosophy professor at Boston College. If you’ve never taken a philosophy course in your life before, now is the time to see how you like it. College offers both clubs and classes that you probably won’t be able to find in such a convenient space after graduation, so even if you find yourself in the most boring history class in the world, maybe you’ll discover you really like the theater core class you take next semester.
5. Money Doesn’t Have to Run Your World
If money is the reason why you aren’t a studio art and theater double major, then you should probably re-consider that decision. With the world ever-changing and corporations desiring people who are multi-faceted it doesn’t hurt to study something that you’ve always wanted to study. Many jobs are becoming interconnected, so students shouldn’t let their talents go to waste. “You won’t ever work a day if you’re doing something you love… I think that’s how it goes,” said Kiyono. If you’re in a major or a job just for the money, then it might just be the money that seemingly makes you happy rather than what you’re actually doing.