How to: Survive the “Mid-College Crisis”
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 18:03
Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, there will be that moment when you have a sinking feeling of panicked bewilderment.
What are you going to be when you grow up?
My parents, aunts, uncles, friends and teachers have been asking me this question for as long as I can remember. Over the years my answer – as well as many of yours – has changed from the farfetched childhood dream (trapeze artist) to the slightly more realistic job (teacher) to something related to what you’re in college for (journalist).
But as adamantly as you’re studying to become a successful college graduate to get a real life job and make an impressive salary following your passion, you doubt yourself.
It might not happen all the time but there are those moments when you realize organic chemistry is just way too hard, so you switch from being a biological sciences major to a psychology major.
Or when you realize you don’t actually want to give up the nine years of flute training, so you add music as a minor to your educational plan. Or when it doesn’t seem like you’ll have enough credits to graduate on time if you double major in economics and German – but you don’t want to let go of either of your passions.
College is so stressful.
I call this stress the “Mid-College Crisis.”
Similar to a mid-life crisis, the mid-college crisis is when you suddenly and without warning, question anything and everything you have done in your life. You wonder if you are on the right career path, if you have chosen the right major, if you are going to be successful and if you’re going to make it out alive.
Everybody goes through it. No matter how secure you may think you are with your decision to be a chemical engineering major, you may question if civil engineering would have been better.
Here are a few tips to help you figure out if the path you’re on is the one for you.
Talk to someone.
The first step is to find someone to relate to you. Maybe it’s a professor in your future field or maybe it’s your mom. Find someone whom you respect who will understand what you’re going through. Sometimes professionals will tell you a heartwarming story of when they were an undergrad and in your position, or your mom will remind you why you wanted to flee to Syria as a part of Doctors Without Borders.
If you talk about your doubts out loud, someone may be able to convince you to keep to your plan or to switch things up.
Go back to your roots.
There must have been some reason you chose history as your major. Maybe it was your love for ancient Greek artifacts or that quirky world civilizations professor you had freshman year. Remind yourself why you want to be [insert your successful future job here] in the first place and see if it still makes you as excited as it used to. If it doesn’t, you may want to look into other options because if you still aren’t excited about your field now – as a college student – how are you going to stay excited about it for the rest of your life?
Try out other options.
If you’re worried English isn’t the major for you, take a few classes in other fields. Once you suffer through a chemistry lab, you may have a newfound love for that Shakespeare professor who made your last semester hell. Or you could realize your cranky high school chemistry teacher was the real reason you hated science and fall in love with the lab. You’ll never know until you try it out.
If American movies and stereotypes have taught me anything, it’s that college is about finding yourself. As much as your parents and advisers may want you to have an academic plan and stick to it, sometimes you can’t. College is a time for you to branch out and try new things. So go ahead and take that intro to drawing class – who knows, you might end up being the next Andy Warhol.