When I was in high school, which seems like a long time ago, I had no idea what I wanted to study or what I wanted to be in ten years. Almost everyone thought it was funny that I was uncertain. Those who didn’t laugh were very concerned. I, on the other hand, was confident that business would be a good pick. Consequently, when I arrived at Texas Tech University as a freshman, I jumped headlong into courses required for majors in the Rawls College of Business; it sounded like so much fun, and much better than telling people that I was “undecided.” Little did I know, I had no real interest in business! This was evident as my end of semester grades came in.
Luckily, I was advised in a department known as University Advising. There, my advisor made it mandatory for us to take seven steps before meeting with him regarding courses for the following semester. Each of these steps we had to take were preparation for or part of the Discovery! Major Map Workshop. Discovery! is built to help students like me who have no idea about what they want to study. Admittedly, at the time I was annoyed at the requirement to prepare in this way. Reluctantly I started completing the steps, thinking, “This is a complete waste of time.” I thought this until I got to about the fifth step, where I was required to take the assessment called … FOCUS. This assessment, available to all TTU students through the University Career Center, gathers information on our personalities, values, interests, skills, and goals. It then suggests majors that are likely to suit us the most. In addition, it also tells us jobs we might do with each of the suggested majors. This assessment took me, at most, fifteen minutes to complete. This was a quick step forward for someone who had no interest in her current studies. It became clear that business had nothing to do with who I am as a person. Long story short, as I read through the list of possible majors that fit me, I began to explore the first major on my list: Psychology.
Fast forward … two semesters later, I’m still a psychology major. And my GPA? Now that I’m pursuing a major that fits me, a 3.0 is an easy minimum for me (just sayin’). In other words, I love what I study and, for the first time ever, I know exactly what I want to do with my life. Let’s be real, every day you run into students who talk about how much they love what they study. So when you meet these people, dig a little deeper. The questions that matter are, “Why did you choose your major,” and, “What do you want to do with that?” For many of us who came in as Undecided, the TTU Discovery! Program helps make the answer simple: “Because it looks like me … it just fits.” As a Junior, this is particularly encouraging because I actually know exactly what I want to do after I graduate.
But it gets better …
One year ago, I was honored to begin working as a student assistant in University Advising. This experience has given me insight into what happens behind those mahogany doors. I love knowing how it all goes down. Little secret: Making big decisions is not a quick process. Although most students would assume it’s a matter of completing some assessments and letting the advisor do all the work, there’s actually much more to it. A Lead Academic Advisor spends a solid amount of time planning on ways to build programs like Discovery! All of the academic advisors are trained to work with students who are unsure about their major or who don’t quite qualify to declare it. Together, they help students transform themselves from wandering through college with low GPA’s to running toward graduation as members of the Dean’s List and President’s Honor Roll.
Having had the chance to represent the Discovery! team at events for prospective students, I always make a point to tell students that it is okay to come in under the designation University Undecided & Exploratory. I believe it is better that new students come in and get the help of professionals to help find their own callings than for them to study something that barely fits.
Now your turn. “Why do you study what you study?” “What will you do with your degree?”
If you have a solid answer and it doesn’t take you longer than ten minutes to explain it to a stranger, you’re on the right track! Stay awesome!