Intro to college

Jasalyn Smith is the owner and founder of The Word Stylist, an editing and copywriting firm specializing in academic and narrative works. Prior to launching her own business, she gained professional experience in a variety of public relations and communications roles, including roles at Edelman and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. Her previous experiences range from search engine optimization (SEO), media writing, social media campaigns and event planning.

Jasalyn earned her Master of Public Administration degree from Georgia State University and Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University.

Taking that leap from high school into college is not just the first step into adulthood, it’s probably the first time you’ll be making a major life choice. In the months leading into your first semester, you have counselors, parents and “experts” demanding that you to pick a major. You’re probably hearing things such as: You have to pick now, your future career depends on it! What you choose now will shape the rest of your life! You must choose your major, then choose your classes that coincide with that choice.

No pressure, right?

While it is true that the common four-year curriculum path colleges and universities assumes that students enter college prepared to make a decision regarding major, an estimated 20 to 50 percent of students enter college as “undecided” (Gordon, 1995) and an estimated 75 percent of students change their major at least once before graduation (Gordon, 1995). This isn’t just another empty statistic — I actually was one of those students who changed their major! This change doesn’t come through random epiphany; it happens when you explore. Exploring different electives gives you a chance to not only expand your awareness of new things and ideas, but to also learn more about yourself and your interests.

Let me give you a little insight on how my freshman year “explorations” helped me:

When I enrolled in college at Louisiana State University, I had no doubt in my mind that I would take the path that led me to medical school. Growing up, I was always told how smart I was and how I was destined to become a doctor, scientist or biologist. I scored the highest on the science portions of the standardized test in my high school, so, naturally, I chose Biochemistry as my major. My second semester in college, I felt super bored with my courses. I had only taken biology, chemistry, trigonometry, calculus and history. Per the advice of my friend, I decided to add something I’d never heard of to my course list as an elective — Introduction to Mass Communication — just for fun. All I’d heard about the course was that we’d get to watch and learn about the media. Easy, right?

Totally life changing! I completely fell in love with the course. I’d never known about Public Relations, Journalism, etc. These were careers? Sign me up! By the end of my second semester as a freshman, I’d changed my major to Mass Communication. This was the perfect fit for my personality, and I continued to take on random electives and I learned so much about culture OUTSIDE of my normal life. Needless to say, nine years later, I have public relations, journalism and communications splattered across my resume. I found my passion!

It can be quite a daunting task to figure out exactly who you want to be and what you want to do with the rest of your life, all in one summer before college. So, I am here to take the pressure off and tell you: use your beginning semesters to explore! College courses are as dynamic as he world we live in — use this to your advantage. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to already know exactly what you want to major in. You may have ALWAYS known what you were destined to be! But, it’s also perfectly fine to not have any clue, yet. Use this time to live a little, learn a lot and find yourself.

Sources:
Freedman, L. (2013, June 28). The Pennsylvania State University Division of Undergraduate Studies. Retrieved March 12, 2015, from http://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2013/06/disconnect-choosing-major/#sthash.4hyMy0a0.dpuf

Gordon, V. N. (1995). The undecided college student: An academic and career advising challenge (2nd. ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

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