The infamous ‘they’ says that there are a few decisions in life that define who we are and the course of our futures. A few would say that choosing a college is one of those. While I agree that it is a momentous decision, I must say that there is a higher education decision that is far more pivotal: choosing a major.
When I began at LMU in Fall 2010 (I’m ancient, I know) I was a Criminal Justice Major with the full intention of becoming involved in behavioral analysis. After my Introduction to Criminal Justice class, I quickly realized that I was not cut out for the life of a Criminal Justice Major. It is a good program with outstanding professors, but the coursework nearly put me to sleep every time I feebly attempted to study it, and I was only one class in. All the other Criminal Justice majors were so excited about what we were studying that I knew my lack of interest was a sign that I just didn’t belong.
After realizing that my first major was not a good fit, I made the switch to Psychology. Maybe I had been watching too much Criminal Minds or maybe the idea of grilling people about their deepest darkest secrets while dressed in a white lab coat sounded appealing, but after my child psychology class, I realized that wasn’t what being a Psychology major was all about. Thus, at the end of my freshman year, I was left major-less, and completely unsure of what I was going to do with my life (not that I’m any more certain now).
During the summer I thought, I wrote, I read, and most of all, I made an entirely new set of friends. (Living and working on campus through the summers will do that to you.) The more I read and the more I wrote, really, the more I just lived, the more I began to think seriously about what would make me happy—what had always made me happy.
That fall, I happily changed my major a second time. This time, I made the jump to the English program. I was skeptical, at first. I mean, I had already failed to fit into two majors I had previously thought I would love. The first day I walked into my English 290 (Literary Research and Criticism) class and met some fellow majors, I was sold entirely. At first, I was still clinging to my Criminal Justice roots and decided on a concentration in Pre-Law. I was insistent on going to law school after graduation and I just knew that I wanted to do legal research.
However, the more English classes I took, the more I realized that I didn’t want to go to law school and I didn’t want to do legal research. I still love Criminal Minds and Law and Order, but they’re just shows and I honestly cannot imagine myself in that world. My world is reading and writing. It’s meeting people who love what I do. It’s traveling and experiencing. So, at the end of my sophomore year, I made another change, but this time only to my concentration. Since then, I have remained an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing. I’m still not 100% on what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I think it lies somewhere in the realm of alternative journalism—a growing field that captures my interest and attention.
No, not every day is fun. No, not every assignment is easy or even enjoyable. I still get confused about writing sometimes and frequently find myself overwhelmed. Not once, though, have I ever regretted my journey to find my major. I love my ‘English Major Family’ and my professors are the most amazing instructors and mentors I have had the pleasure of learning from. I love the long assignments even if they stress me out. I love the research, the organizing, the editing. I even love lectures and the atmosphere of an English classroom that is so conducive to discussion. Most of all, I love the finished product and sharing it with my classmates and getting feedback. It’s those morsels of bliss that I live for and that comfort me during times of educational distress.
Being an English major is an integral part of my identity. Your major always is. It defines, to a certain degree, who you hang out with, what you do with your spare time (and how much of it you have), your future career, and most of all your level of happiness during your time as an undergraduate. Finding a fit can be difficult. Take lots of classes (even if they don’t count toward your final major, they’ll be electives), take your general education classes seriously (you may discover something you love), and really consider what will make you happy in the long run. Your major is something you’ll be dedicated to for at least two years (factoring in all the general education you’ll have the first couple of years), more if you decide to go to graduate school in the same field. Choosing a major might just be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. So, don’t take the decision lightly and don’t be afraid to switch if you realize your original major isn’t a good fit for you. Above all, remember, you should enjoy your college experience! Your major makes a definite difference!
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