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5 months ago
Admissions Advice

How did you find your passion and how were you sure this was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

I like computers and I think I want to major in computer science, but I'm worried that I could be making the wrong decision. I like business and writing as well. I'm a rising sophomore, how do I really be sure of my career choice?

advice
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2 answers

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5 months ago

Don't worry about making a bad career choice at age ~16!!! I struggled a lot with committing to any one thing as a major though I had niche fields of STEM and non-STEM programs that seemed really cool to me: molecular biology, chemical engineering, creative writing. I didn't worry too much about sticking to one thing, though it was somewhat in the back of my mind like a 'future problem' neon sign was ingrained my brain cells blaring into the backs of my corneas... I spent a couple nights worrying about my spike and all, like everyone but was probably too exhausted to spend too much time stressing. Thank goodness I had AP Biology homework, tennis practices, and 2AM Youtube to tune that out though... Anyways, I literally submitted my applications completely devastated on the inside, five minutes before my deadline almost self-sabotaging myself to not going to college. There were simply too many options to choose from and I took an nontraditional path picking schools and majors. I ended up making the right call for myself and am really fortunate with the choice I made today...

Here's an honest take on what your options are in life and :

1. A heads up first. You're going to see a lot of people on forums like these having super specific niches and already having their college majors planned pre-high school... Take a deep breath and don't freak out if you see people who know their life plans already! This is like less than 10% of seniors. Even it sounds like you have a few interest areas already, so quite honestly you're probably better than me and loads of other people right now.

2. Now a good truth: Careers will change a lot for people in our generation. I read a lot of news and watch a lot of documentaries, and the one thing moving faster than global warming/New Horizons in space(take your pick) is the global jobs market. Never before are people going back to college, getting second degrees, and even completely swapping career choices than ever before and that's actually can be great news for indecisive people like me! People will average over 10+ different jobs in their careers by the time we join the workforce (maybe even more, though for some people those jobs are admittedly in the same line of work with promotions), and that can translate into whatever experience you want. Reluctance and indecision an be your friend if you embrace it, so don't try to get rid of the voices in your head if they are telling you to switch things up.. sometimes listen to them!

3. The All-Over-The-Place Plan: If you are torn between any types of areas or even if you really like one but feel really strongly you will need a back-up plan, no fears! There is a college application strategy for you. You don't have to look at college probably too much until Junior year, as I would focus on enjoying high school next year and following your passions then, but in the future hear's a game plan:: I like I mentioned was indecisive with my majors which were not crazy different, but different enough where they didn't overlap easily, so I ended up applying to a bunch of colleges. This could mean anywhere between 5-20 depending on the person, and for me I was in the middle with 12: 3 biology schools, 3 chemical engineering schools, and like 3 premed based schools. I looked at places with the programs that suited me best in each of the categories and let my schools decide where I would go and what I'd do, which honestly was kind of fun and a relief! Point is, its okay to diversify your college list, which I don't know if a lot of my friends did applying to school and wish I helped them do... So hope this helps someone in the future, if anyone sees this in addition to you! It seems straightforward, but so do physics till you throw in rotational forces :...( LOL!

4: Lastly, a final trick up your sleeve: The Postponement Solution: So, I outlined my strategy above, and now am two months removed from decision making with my final destination. What did I do and settle on??? Well, my plan in #3 had another failsafe built in that may be foreshadowed by the fact I listed 3x groups of 3 schools I applied to with 12 overall... Did I pick a chemical engineering or writing school? Nope, not from those special groups, but at the same time sorta... This is where those extra mystery schools come in.. Along my college journey, I found a couple schools who coincidentally on top of having programs that piqued my initial interest, also had offerings where they let you pick any major up until your sophomore year of college... WOAH, that was interesting. Long story short, this really attracted me and I applied to these places, and viola here I am today probably studying molecular biology, but with being allowed to double major in public health and switch either of those if I need too in the next two years. For me, I'm ecstatic because I need more time! Turns out lots of colleges have similar capabilities to allow double majors or department switching, though many might be somewhat rigid in their rules still, so if you don't know in 2-3 years from now, it's still okay! My failsafe plan had the perfect failsafe inside the failsafe for me, and I'm here breathing after lots of hyperventilation.

Now if com sci interests you, by all means don't be afraid to spend time (even lots of time) researching it! Ironically, my mom is a computer scientist who didn't want me to go into comp sci... Still she pushed me to take AP Comp Sci A, and I loved it! I think a tip there is that a career as a basic programmer doesn't make as much money as vocational fields like hardware development or theoretical computer science, but there's pros/cons to every career... A note I will tell you, of the smartest kids I know graduating my grade and the one below (valedictorian level students), at least two are studying computer science, one business as she's already successful there, and one is even studying film! If you are passionate, you can have fun anywhere doing any one thing or any combination of them!

Overall, I'd explore the three interests you have right now with extracurriculars that overlap at their intersections. An example of this I can give you from my own life is that I worked as a student nonprofit chief of technology and my school paper's Editor In Chief, where both had websites, so I was writing articles for those roles, marketing our site, and even doing some coding at the same time-which sounds like it could be a blast for you! Maybe try that and, of course, good luck!

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5 months ago

There is no one right answer to this. Since you're a sophomore, you've got 2 years to figure out what you intend to major in. I would suggest exploring the possible options and just getting the hands-on feel of the fields. Think you want to major in computer science? Take a few classes. Maybe writing is your thing? Write something and try to get it published.

Another way is to join a good liberal arts college since you wouldn't have to chose a major in the first year of college. You can explore your options in a liberal arts college and take the classes you're interested in and decide after the first year, which subjects you want to major in.

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