For most college-bound students, the journey starts with deciding what they want to study. For some this decision comes naturally. For many, including myself, the decision was a bit harder.
Virginia Gordon, author of “The Undecided College Student: An Academic and Career Advising Challenge,” explained how 20 to 50 percent of college-bound students have yet to choose a major before they get to college.
To me, the question, “what do you want to major in?” actually meant, “what do you want to do with the rest of your life?” As an 18-year-old, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted for dinner, let alone what I wanted to study in college.
High school seniors and students in their first years of college need to allow themselves to slow down, explore options and make more thoughtful decisions about their futures instead of allowing themselves to be pushed into a career choice they may regret later.
It is as if students are expected to have their whole lives figured out by the time they get to college. They are forced to select an educational pathway without knowing where they will end up or if they will even like what they’re doing.
It’s no surprise that 80 percent of students end up changing their major at least once during college. The National Center for Education Statistics also reported that, on average, college students change majors at least three times over the course of their college careers.
Fast forward one year later, and here I am at Mizzou, still undeclared and once again lost. I tried business for a semester, then education and then journalism. By this point, I was a second semester sophomore, and I still felt something in my education was missing.
I was getting further along in my college career, and I was nervous I would never find a major I was completely satisfied with. Waiting to change your major can cost time and money, and I wasn’t about to prolong my education any longer than need be.
All of the advisers I had at Mizzou up to that point had been somewhat helpful in guiding me in the right direction. I finally received clarity when one of my older sorority sisters told me about MU’s science and agricultural journalism program.
Jenny Jansen, a 2017 science and agricultural journalism graduate, raved about her experience with CAFNR, her advisor and her classes. She told me about the flexibility the program offered and explained how she was able to customize her education and make it to where she was doing the things she enjoyed most.
I was sold.
I had never taken an agriculture class in my life, but I loved the students in CAFNR. I relished the idea of getting to work with both the worldly, hardworking students in CAFNR and the aggressive, passionate students in the J-School. And while I was at it, I got to complete a minor in business.
I was able to get the most out of my education, and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters. I didn’t fit into just one major, but three.
With 11 different schools and over 300 degree programs, MU has something for everyone. The schools have even developed numerous cross-over programs, like science and agricultural journalism, that offer the best of each profession.
Struggling to choose a major is completely normal. College is a time to find out who you are and what you like to do. It is an ongoing process that will hopefully continue even after you receive your diploma.