Well, this blog post has once again been written by the infamous Whitney M. Doubleday. Many drafts were written and abandoned before settling on this one for publication. The original title for this post was " Choosing a Major: Version #23488592." I asked my friend to write about this topic and was fully aware that it has been one of the most difficult decisions for her as she has made her way through school. This decision is commonly quite thorny. (Don't tell Whitney that this is a common problem) Among the top reasons college students leave school is that they do not know what they want to major in and how they want to use it. The other two major reasons are time constraints due to family responsibilities and financial burdens.
In true Whitney style, she has addressed the problems most students struggle with as they journey into adulthood.
It is my hope that through humor, Whitney and I can help other students avoid these pitfalls. And so her story continues....
Sometimes, I like to whine. After I had finished my second guest blog for Mrs. Hartman, I asked her what my next assignment was. She told me. I whined a little. I asked her if she was serious. She was, and I whined a little more. The topic she gave me was choosing a major. I wrote a first draft of this blog about three months ago. However, it did not feel like I was writing as much as it felt like I was beating random words into a Word Doc with a stubby, broken baseball bat then proofreading them to make sure they made sense in the order I put them. Upon analyzing the final product, I felt dissatisfied. Yes, all my words made sense in the order I put them, but it all seemed generic and very cookie-cutter. I whined a little more. Mrs. Hartman reminded me that I was not contractually bound to her, and that I could quit at any time. Her reverse psychology worked—I like to refer to her as Hannibal from time to time—and I stopped whining and ignored the project until tonight, December 15, 2014 (please see previous blog about why it is important not to procrastinate).
So tonight, I opened up a Word Doc and thought about how I decided to major in biology and minor in chemistry. I could not think of any passionate, inspirational reasons, and twenty minutes later, I found myself in the cyber black hole that is YouTube. Whenever I’m lost, that’s usually where I look for myself. I shirked my responsibilities for a little longer. Upon running out of “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” videos from Jimmy Kimmel Live to watch, however, I decided I should probably think about this subject a little harder.
So here we are now, and I still have nothing stirring to tell you about choosing a major. Side note: please try not to notice how I am attempting to lower your expectations for this blog. This is probably cheating on some level. But I’ve come to terms with it, and so should you. Truth be told, I was not very good at the “deciding what I want to do with the rest of my life” part of college; hence my initial (chronic) whining about this writing assignment. My first major was no major at all. I was undeclared for a year and a half. This seemed like a good idea, because if I chose nothing, I would not limit myself to possibilities in the future. However, this was a terrible idea, because I was limiting myself to every possibility in the future because those without a major do not graduate. Conveniently, I ignored this fact and stuck to my general education requirements. The most common short-term issue with this strategy is that these requirements eventually run out.
When I did declare a major, I declared one that would most likely only benefit me if I wanted to talk about the meaning of life with pompous McDonald’s employees while I swept up fries thrown on the ground by screaming four year olds and get yelled at in the drive through by the woman who scalded herself by missing her mouth while trying to drink her hot coffee. How dare I make that coffee so hot! I should probably be more embarrassed about this and not put in on the Internet, but whatever. I’m feeling self-sacrificial: I chose philosophy. Don’t ask me why. It’s one of the great mysteries of the universe on par with the identity of JFK’s true assasinator and how they get those little candies inside the Wonderball.
I took a couple more academic detours before I landed on biology being my major. It was almost chemistry, but after meeting with my advisor at Western, I learned that it would take me a year longer to complete a major in chemistry than a major in biology. I knew that convenience wasn’t the primary reason to choose a major, but I felt validated in my decision after my advisor told me that if he had been in school as long as me, he’d go with the less time consuming major too. Thanks, Nick. Plus, you can do stuff with a biology major. This is why there are biologists as opposed to say—philosophers. This time around, I had a plan that either a major in biology or chemistry could compliment, so I wasn’t handicapping myself by making this change.
In the end, I think the most important thing to take to heart when choosing a major is that you need a solid plan to which you can commit. I am bad at planning and bad at committing to things, especially when they involve important life decisions. Because of this, I decided to put “having a life plan” on the back burner until I was twenty-two. This haunts me every time one of my friends posts a picture of themselves in a cap and gown and every semester that Western takes more of my money. Am I scaring you yet? Good.
That was my mission.
Though it is difficult to narrow down a plan when you are eighteen, it is not impossible. All you really need is an outline of a plan, as an outline is all that is necessary to choose a major, most of the time. I did not have an outline upon entering college, and so I find myself a super senior. Be smarter than me. Get an outline. Don’t ignore it. Much like obesity or long term illness this problem will not take care of itself. Unless you’re cool with living in your parents’ basement reading Cat Fancy until you are forty, then by all means…Or, you can be a magician. I hear you don’t need a college degree to pursue that hobby—er, sound career choice—sorry.
Plans are bound to change, but the good news is, outlines are things that have not been filled in yet. As you talk to more people and become more involved in the collegial community, the outline will begin to fill itself out. As your outline becomes more complete, you can begin to shape your major and your academic career to better help you attain your future career aspirations. This can be done through taking different classes within your chosen major and working with professors on research projects. The sooner you start thinking about these things, the farther ahead you will be.
And look at that! I think I finally finished this post. I feel like I deserve a small reward, like a cupcake or something. Well, kids, I’m going to go now. YouTube needs me. Those puppy videos aren’t going to watch themselves.