If you were ever that kid that sat in their major courses freshman year feeling like they signed up for the wrong class—three times—trust that many other college students felt that way as well. For many, the college admissions process can seem unfamiliar and sometimes frightening. Entering college as a first-generation student, I could offer as much advice as someone who lives alone. Now as a senior, the most immediate advice I could give you is to ask questions—for even the most outrageous thoughts hold lessons we never thought we needed.
Senior year of high school I experienced what you can call a “mini life crisis.”
I had passions, but couldn’t seem to fit them into the categories that were listed on the Common App and SAT. I later decided that I wanted to become a college professor of English. It incorporated my passions for reading, writing and helping others strengthen their abilities in each subject. I immediately thought I should major in education since I wanted to teach, and then when I tried to find a job, I could just specify that I’d like to teach English. I didn’t think to ask about this decision because it just sounded right, and my parents were just glad I was going to college.
The university I attended automatically registered freshmen for their first semesters. I thought, “Great! I’m being placed on the right track immediately.” I remember walking into my first education introductory course. Our first lesson revolved around the dynamics of the classroom and the many scenarios to expect. Not only did it feel too easy, I also didn’t understand the importance of learning about teaching kids when I strictly wanted to teach adults. I wanted to focus on teaching students that wanted to define their writing skills and discuss various works of literature.
My ultimate goal? Teaching at a graduate level.
I figured since I wanted to teach, I needed to start from the bottom, right? Learn the ins-and-outs of the classroom first and eventually learn how to teach college students. But I also thought, “Why would I need to learn how to deal with grown-ups?” Afterall, students who decide to continue their education past their undergraduate studies come off as vastly mature and serious about whatever subject they’re concentrating in. So, when I started learning how to respond to temperamental toddlers and pre-teens, I felt perplexed, worried and a bit embarrassed all at once.
The reason I entered college so lost and confused ended up being because I felt I didn’t get an opportunity to explore many information outlets. In reality, I didn’t know what or how to ask. So, when I attended the university’s activities fair, I couldn’t believe how much access to information my university offered. I realize now how much I really had at my disposal as a student at a college preparatory high school.
However, even that feels hard to take advantage of when one lacks the understanding in regard to the power questions hold. Attending this fair gave me a first-hand experience at what it means to network. I always found myself being taught to follow instructions and rather than ask, and I ended up assuming.
This same thinking landed me in the wrong major my freshman year.
At this fair, I met my current sorority sister. She majored in education, like me, and wanted to know why I chose the major. I went on about all my passions in the field of English and how I wanted to teach students who shared those same passions, which the reason why I wanted to aim towards teaching older students in college. She immediately responded with, “Well then shouldn’t you be majoring in English?” I remember getting that feeling when your heart sinks to your stomach.
I felt like I ruined my entire college career by simply checking the wrong box on my application.
She assured me that this queasy feeling ended up being lucky, since I realized this mistake so early on in my college journey. If I recognized this error later on, the terrifying prospect of a derailed graduation would end up being my reality. To some college students, this probably seems like the most obvious piece of information they stumbled upon all day. But I hope it enlightens those introverts or even “know-it-alls” to ask and ask early.
Question any and everything, because this revolves around your future.
The advertised freshman year revolves around the fun and independent lifestyle, but in reality, these end up becoming some of the most transformative years of your life. Take them seriously. Approach them with passion but responsibility. But most importantly, ask questions, and listen to what feels best for you. For even the most outrageous thoughts hold lessons we never thought we needed.