Column: The 'major' struggle with finding your dream path
Rachel Williams does a routine grooming for the horse Sheza Lopin Deelite at the Equine Center on Sept. 10, 2014.
Your major is a crucial consideration when applying to college. Although you may apply as undeclared, eventually you have to select something from the list of hundreds of different majors, ranging from art history to physiology. Some students seem to have been born knowing what they want to do in life, while others struggle to determine which path they’d like to follow.
Choosing a major can feel like such a life-defining choice that it seems you have little room for error. The pressure of having to make a choice early on sometimes results in students picking a major in which they have little interest. Some students choose according to program difficulty, while others decide based on family expectations.
For much of my own life, I was certain I wanted to study dentistry. After an accident at age 7, I wanted to pursue a career in this field. While growing up children and teens are often influenced by such personal experiences, leading them to sway from one career aspiration to another. Although I thought I was set on this dream job, I had a change of heart when I visited the Hong Kong Jockey Club Equine Veterinary Clinic.
This visit opened my eyes to a completely different career possibility, and my infinite love for horses made me realize that I wanted to become an equine veterinarian. As high school sciences got harder, though, I became more realistic, realizing that any medicine-related path would not work for me. So, I needed to rethink my choice again.
Law was the next option that seemed perfect. Lawyers, after all, often have sophisticated jobs that come with a high standard of living. When considering different universities and attending college fairs at my high school, all my questions were directed toward law.
However, when the time came to actually apply to college, I realized that my true passion lies in writing. After writing several race reports for my sailing club’s magazine, I found journalism to be a perfect match.
Choosing a major based on your academic strengths instead of your personal interests sometimes results in regret. After my first semester of journalism at the UA, I wasn’t as thrilled with it as I expected to be. During my second semester, I started training with the UA Equestrian Team, where I met many people studying animal science and veterinary science.
Some people feel that if they don’t at least try to pursue their dreams, they end up living in regret. That’s something I didn’t want, so I decided to change my major. Next semester, I’m giving veterinary science a try, returning to an earlier passion.
When discussing the process of choosing a major with Taylor McCoskey, a sophomore in political science at UA, it became clear that many students go through the process of changing majors.
“I always thought I wanted to do something in the medical field because a lot of the women in my family were in it,” she said.
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McCoskey chose her major based on her family’s careers instead of her own personal interests. After realizing that her heart wasn’t in medicine, she changed her major to political science last semester.
“I decided that medical school wasn’t the path I wanted to take and I had always been really interested in politics, and that’s why I decided to study poli-sci,” she said.
McCoskey is now content with her decision and is pursuing a second major in French.
Regardless of the major initially chosen when applying to college, students still have the opportunity to change to something else if they feel it’s better fit. Those who might feel ambivalent about their current path might benefit from experimenting with areas of study that play to their interests and strengths.
Contrary to what many might believe, your first major is not a set-in-stone life choice.
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