a college student works with small children

I thought that this could be me in 5 years, but I was so wrong!

Imagine if you will…an ordinary person– not unlike yourself– who wakes up every morning and goes to the office of the job they hate.

Despite hating every minute at this job, they stay, telling themselves that if they just stick to it for 12 more years they’ll get the retirement benefits and move somewhere exotic. Although this is true, their day-to-day life is still miserable, and their work lets them down over and over again. More and more often, they contemplate quitting, but they still have ten more years to go.

This is a story true for a large sum of Americans. This could be our parents, our aunts, our uncles, our friend’s parents, sometimes even our teachers. But this will not be me and it shouldn’t be you.

Choosing the right major is vital to your post-secondary education success happiness. Luckily, there’s no big rush to declare if you’re a freshman or even a first semester sophomore. You’ve got some time to figure it out.

However, if you are approaching your junior year the time to choose is coming quickly, and odds are you’re feeling anxious, confused and lost. So I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be okay.

A lot of people make picking your major out to be the end all decision that determines whether you succeed or fail in life, but in reality picking your major shouldn’t be stressful. In fact, picking your major should be easy. Because like it or not, we all know exactly what we want to be when we grow up.

I came to Winona four months ago with a passion for writing and a major in English Education/CALT. I told myself over and over being a teacher would be great. I would love being a teacher. There was no better career for me. And I believed this for about two weeks.

But in the panic of studying for the MTLEs, trying to sharpen my public speaking skills and attempting to figure out what grade level I wanted to teach, I realized this was too much for me. So I went searching for help from the CALT adviser.

He was happy to make an appointment with me and when we sat down he asked me one important question: “Why do you want to teach?” I mulled the question over, desperate to impress the head of the CALT program, and proudly replied that I had a passion for writing and felt that I could really contribute to a classroom environment because of my knowledge.

He shot me down without hesitation, and I mean that in the best way possible. He told me that if I wasn’t passionate about teaching kids and willing to deal with the extra hours after work, the angry parents, the unwilling students and the bureaucratic red tape, that I should reconsider my major. Teaching is a noble job, but it’s not an easy path to take.

Despite not impressing the head of the CAL department, I was relieved. He’d told me what I’d known all along. I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher, I didn’t have the patience or want the time commitment. I wanted to write and only write.

I was terrified, naturally, as no freshman wants to come in and lose their major right off the bat especially with no real back up plan. I tried all the different venues of finding a new major, including:

But at the end of the day it all came back to writing. It was all I could think about and all I wanted to do, but no one can deny that’s scary. No one knows the job outlook for broad majors like that.

You could be employed right out of college or you could be unemployed for more than six months. It’s a scary tossup. Or so I thought.

If you’re having the same feelings towards a major you’re interested in, try going in and talking to the head of the department, because you may be surprised at what they tell you.

The professors I spoke with over in the English department as well as my orientation teacher all stressed two key messages, and I think that these are the most important things to remember while choosing a major.

1. If you do what makes you happy, you’ll never work a day in your life.
2. Anyone can get a degree, it’s how you apply it that will find you your job.

So, if you know what you love and you know what makes you happy, then that’s exactly what you should pursue. Don’t worry about what other people will think and don’t worry about what your parents or friends say: worry about what makes you happy, because that’s how you’ll truly be successful in life.

Because at the end of the day, you are the one that has to live with your decisions, not them. You have the capacity to do amazing, wonderful, powerful things with your dreams. You just need to be brave enough to follow them.