In my senior year of high school, I took a class that would change the trajectory of my educational career:An intro to law and economics class.
During the first half of the year, we focused on the legal system.
I mastered basic concepts, studied general court proceedings and learned about how the law shapes our everyday lives.
That class challenged my thinking, and I loved every moment of it. I’d never felt truly interested in what I was learning before then. I did so well that I was one of the two students who were exempt from the final exam because of my high grades.
At around this time, I also started applying to colleges.
I started to do my own research outside of the classroom, searching up different types of lawyers, what they do on a daily basis and, of course, their salaries.
As a first generation college student, I felt a lot of pressure from my family to go into school with an idea of what I actually wanted to do, but I barely had any guidance during the application process.
I went to an all-girls school in Queens, New York. We had a weekly one 45-minute class period to speak to a counselor. It was intended to help us fill out financial aid forms, write a personal statement and jump through all the other hoops of the college application process.
It helped me fill out my applications. But it failed to give me a better understanding of what route I should take moving forward.
After taking some time and going through the lists of degrees that each school had to offer, I decided to try pre-law.
I thought this was a good starting point. I was enjoying my intro to law class, and worst-case scenario, I could always change my mind after enrolling.
I wound up applying for the legal studies BA at UB.
I took introductory classes in law, political science and sociology, which further increased my interest in the field.
I joined a pre-law organization for pre-law students of color, eventually working my way up to become the club’s president.
One would think I was pretty set on going to law school.
But in all honesty, I’m not too sure.
I started my freshman year in the fall of 2019, and the COVID-19 pandemic started at the beginning of my spring semester. I only had one real semester at UB and was sure that law would be my end goal.
UB students typically have until fall of their sophomore year to decide on a major to be able to graduate within four years. I was completely online my sophomore year. I couldn’t try new things in person.
Junior year changed that for me. As COVID-19 restrictions eased up and students returned to campus, I started exploring.
I got real estate experience while interning for a brokerage firm. I grew interested in possibly taking classes and studying to become an agent.
I also found out about the journalism certificate program at UB after taking a journalism class to fill a basic English requirement. I started taking more journalism classes and writing for The Spectrum and Her Campus, leaving me even more confused about what I wanted to do after graduation.
I also got involved in marketing after becoming a campus representative for Victoria’s Secret PINK, and helping a New York City broker market her business better. All of these experiences have helped me become a better student and a better professional, but they also made me question if picking a legal studies major was a good choice.
And honestly, I wish I had the chance to go back and do it all over again.
Being first generation, figuring everything out on my own — I was more worried about keeping my grades up than doing anything else that would jeopardize that. I hadn’t started looking for outside internships by the fall of my sophomore year. Do most students really know all the opportunities out there and what they might be interested in by then? I don’t think so. That’s still way too early in the game.
Yes, there are students who get an early start. But for students like me who are figuring things out on their own, those realizations might come a little later.
And that’s what college is about: someone can have an experience that changes their mind about what they want to spend the rest of their life doing.
I don’t regret my decision. But if I had the chance, I would’ve taken more classes in other fields and given more thought to what I want my future to look like.
Kiana Hodge is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org