Whether a first-year student or a fourth-year student, almost every student has asked themselves the daunting question: “What will I major in?” This can go along with panic attacks and nervous breakdowns about the next big question: “What will I do with my life?” And sometimes, just to spice it up, you’ll even get passive-aggressive questions from parents as they breathe down your neck, wondering about your next move and wishing you would pursue some S.T.E.M. job that “actually pays.” While some of us are in the aftermath of this chaos, many are still searching for the perfect major, class or sign from the universe about what path they should take to ensure the best possible future. So, from my eight months of college experience and from spending serious time wondering about what I should do with my life, I will attempt to explain what to do — or at least where to start— for those that are undeclared, confused or just trying to figure out their lives.
My first piece of advice, for all you confused Gauchos out there is to try a language. Although I came in knowing that I wanted to pursue Spanish, I was surprised by the quality of the department. In other languages, my friends have had similar experiences. Small class sizes, fluent professors and a really interactive schedule are just some of the amazing characteristics of language courses. So, no, this is not some high school Spanish class with a mediocre teacher and classes with 40-plus kids who are just there to graduate. This is a class filled with individuals who want to pursue a language, whether to become fluent or to major or minor. Some of you might be thinking, “a language, why would I ever want to do that?” However, from my experience, a language can open so many doors, from study abroad opportunities, to the ability to experience a new culture, to meeting people of different backgrounds, so maybe it is worth a shot.
One of the most basic tips is to narrow down your options and figure out whether you want to pursue a career in a S.T.E.M. field. With many basic requirements, including the introductory chemistry series, it shouldn’t take much time to see if this field of work is up your alley. Personally, even though I loved my biology classes in high school, I could not see myself sticking with a S.T.E.M. major with all the science work that comes with it. But that’s me. Everyone has different strengths, but deciding whether a S.T.E.M. major is right for you is incredibly important, as many require a lot of prerequisites. Once you do this, you have just narrowed down the possible major list by almost half. Yeehaw to that my fellow Gauchos!
Do something because it sounds interesting— because you’ll actually like doing it.
If you’re a first year, seminars and interdisciplinary classes are a really cool way to try out some unique courses that aren’t usually offered. With topics focused on race and religion to my current “landscapes of Isla Vista” class, these courses are a great way to explore new and diverse ideas that could inspire you to pursue something more in depth. And, as these are only offered to first-years, make the most out of them! Try that class that seems completely out of your wheelhouse, because you might end up liking it or at least meet some interesting people along the way.
Last, and most importantly, do what makes you happy. Do not decide on a major because it is what your parents want or because you think it is what will make you the most money. Do something because it sounds interesting— because you’ll actually like doing it. Of course, that sounds optimistic considering many of us are going into debt because of college. However, in our very short lives, it is so incredibly important to do something that we love. Even if we don’t know exactly what that is right now, we should try and figure that out instead of sticking to something that seems comfortable or lucrative.
So, after doing all six writing requirements and completing every last art GE, what should our plans be? Although everyone says that we have enough time to figure it out and that we are still young, most of us still feel the societal pressure of choosing a career path creeping up behind us, lurking in the shadows of any glimmer of self-confidence or sureness. However, I’ve written this piece to say that everyone truly will be okay. Majors do not always decide careers, nor do they decide how happy you’ll be, so explore the many classes that UCSB has to offer, connect with diverse groups of people and learn from their experiences and mistakes, try new things, be willing to put yourself outside your comfort zone and find what fits you. Although it can be hard to ignore the pressure of finding something now while surrounded by people that somehow have their whole lives planned out, use this time of unsureness to explore every curiosity or interest you’ve ever had; once you do figure out your correct path, you’ll be introduced to the new stress of actually succeeding in it and might possibly miss the times where you could try out new things, classes and topics. So go get it Gaucho, you’ll figure it out!
Grace Wiley wants Gauchos to pursue their passions.