BY ANTON LUCANUS
Colleges and universities provide adults with the education and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in a professional work environment. It’s a place of academic and personal growth for many students and a location to build connections with peers, professors, and industry professionals. It’s important to utilize the knowledge and connections gained as a tool for success after graduation. The decision to enter college isn’t easy. It takes years to complete, a large amount of financial investment, and the ability to academically compute, recall, and present information. Although these factors may be considered more as cons than pros, it’s important to understand the long term gains rather than short term pains.
When entering higher education, one of the first questions others ask is what major someone has selected. Picking a major is extremely difficult, especially if someone is traditionally entering college or university before they even reach their 20s. Asking a teenager to pick their life course is hard. It’s even harder when the pressure from the people surround someone continually ask for answers. College majors seem to be binary, yet there are so many things someone can do with their degree. As well, there is always the option to pursue postgraduate education.
A great way to begin the major selection process is to go undeclared for the first few semesters of college. By just taking general credit courses, it’s easy to test out varying subject areas and get a feel for what that field is like. Most college students aren’t exposed to many industries available to work in prior to schooling. This isn’t to say that one should just pick courses at random, instead choose a tailored course list that caters to the student’s future career interests. Taking general classes is a great way to understand the generalizations of many fields, become more well-rounded, and narrow the selection of major choices for a student.
Another way to learn more about a major is to talk with other students in those majors. Older students in the major can explain what jobs are available, what professors they liked and didn’t like, and how their overall experience was during college that selected area. Younger students can explain what it has been like in the beginning stages of the major, but generally juniors and seniors have much more insight and professional industry knowledge. As well, many graduate students are specializing as academic professionals and can explain their time working in the industry before attending graduate school. One of the most important groups of people to talk to are the professors in the major. Professors more than anyone have ample amounts of thorough academic and industry knowledge in their field. By setting up office hours with professors, they can give students a deep explanation of what would be offered to them and what would happen if they decided to pick that major.
Many colleges host academic conferences and talks where they bring in some of the best and most successful people in the industry to come speak to students about their ventures in their field. Some of these professionals come to present unique research that will alter the recent findings of their field and others come to inspire students and professors to stay dedicated in their chosen majors and areas of emphasis as it will prove to benefit the entire human population. These talks are generally free to students and can be extremely helpful when they are undecided and selecting a major.
A great way to meet students from all major areas is to join a student organization. Some colleges have student organizations that are specific to a certain major. Many students that join organizations get much more out of it by doing service projects. Some organizations take trips to gain exposure to certain things or fields, and others social clubs that are just for fun like club sports or the arts. Some student organizations, especially the STEM ones, offer students a place to do extra practice in their field. For example, a computer science club may offer special coding or server projects with VPS available to them. Whatever student organization an individual picks, it is just as important that they at least join one as this will allow them to gain friends, learn about other fields, and expose them professional teamwork.
It’s important to make friends and build professional relationships because in college students are often for the first time, away from their families. Their support system will help them handle stressful situations, learn and grow, and provide happiness. Humans are communal creatures and appreciate having others around. It’s natural to seek out a group of like and unlike minded individuals to create a diverse group of friends that will stick by a student’s side. Professors and advisors are also there to help students in college. Many campuses offer students who are struggling emotionally with counseling services. It’s crucial that students understand what is available to them while in college, especially since they are often the ones paying for it.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and academic goals.