Keep your mind open and your chin up: Advice before entering college

Before you embark on the college journey, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. But, before I dive into my advice for incoming college freshmen, let me share a story about my college experience.

After graduating high school, I was so incredibly sure of myself. I was sure of who I was, what I believed in, what kind of people I wanted to be friends with and the path in life that I would take. But, as is usual in an angsty adolescent story, I was critically wrong. I began my college career as a landscape architect major. I was going to use my knowledge and degree to become an architect for sustainable building and do my part to save the planet one structure at a time. Looking back on that now, I have no idea what I was thinking. I hate math and science, and I extremely lack the creativity and ingenuity necessary to be successful in that capacity.

Within the first month, I realized what a colossal mistake I had made as I struggled with each assignment, feeling like that one kindergartener that could never manage to color inside the lines. Before I could say “pergola,” I found myself hopelessly overwhelmed, feeling like there was no way out of the mess I had gotten myself into.

After getting advice from every adult I knew and taking countless “what job is best for you” quizzes online, I discovered that my university offered help from a career center on campus. I had a great meeting with a career counselor and was then instructed to take yet another job quiz. Some of the results were truly comical considering the applicant – librarian, florist, anthropologist. What? But there among the chaos was something that finally sounded interesting – journalism/public relations. I had always enjoyed writing and language arts classes infinitely more than the rest. It was worth a shot, I supposed. I met with the head of the journalism concentration in the Department of Communication and found myself hanging on her every word. Apparently, this department gave you the opportunity to concentrate on more than one area of study – from communication studiesand broadcasting to journalism, public relations and theatre! Needless to say, I changed my major as soon as I could. Journalism and PR sounded infinitely more interesting than drawing up site designs.

Once I finally found the right major, everything fell into place. By the end of my four years, I had joined clubs related to my major, was accepted as an ambassador for my department and college, and had three internships under my belt. I don’t say that to brag on myself but rather as an example of how students can succeed when they finally find the right fit for them.

As you enter college, I urge you to learn from my mistakes. Being stubborn in college will make everything much more difficult than it should be. Open your mind to alternatives, seek advice from professionals and know that it’s okay to change your major! But most importantly, understand that you will not leave college as the same person that you were as a freshman. Use these years as a time to grow, learn and be exposed to a variety of beliefs and opinions. Keep your mind open and your chin up, and you’ve already won half the battle!