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Worlds to Explore
College majors can be changed
Nhi Tong
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Since 1st grade, I was certain that I wanted to be a journalist. I have always loved to write about what I observe in the world, and whenever I showed my essays to teachers and friends, they said I was talented. So when I was offered a full tuition scholarship to St. John’s University, I accepted it because the school has a strong journalism program and is based in New York City, where I thought I would have many media opportunities. But now, after one semester in college, I am not so sure.

My doubts began when I went to a career fair where students met with professionals in various fields. I discovered that job prospects for students majoring in finance and accounting were much better than those for journalism majors. I wondered if I could make a living as a journalist in a competitive market, especially since my first language is Vietnamese, not English. Pursuing my passion for writing might make me happy, but making a living is my first priority.

About a month later, I had a conversation with a senior who I met in the cafeteria. He told me that when he was a freshman, he had no idea what he wanted to pursue as a career. For him, college was all about exploring possibilities.

“I changed my major six times,” he said.

“How could you do that?” I asked in disbelief.

“It happens in college. I switched my major from science to math and now I’m an English major. I can see myself as an English professor someday,” he answered.

image by YC-Art Dept

After we talked, I regretted that I only applied to colleges with strong journalism departments, and there weren’t many of those. But now I know my major doesn’t necessarily determine my career path. One of my professors recently said, “Your major isn’t always important. What employers also care about is what you are able to offer, like speaking a foreign language for instance.”

To add to my confusion, I discovered I wasn’t as motivated to write articles as I thought I would be. At first I was excited when I saw that journalism students could join a weekly campus newspaper staff. But I only ended up contributing one editorial. The reasons: Homework started piling up, and I never saw students reading the paper, only stacks of unread newspapers in the hallways.

I pondered so many questions: “Should I continue with this dream? Is my dream changing? How can I change my career path?”

I decided to talk to the dean to share my confusion and he said that I still had a lot of time to explore. He knew I was interested in business and sociology so he suggested I take courses in those subjects to see how I like them. As a result, I registered for a management class and a general sociology class next semester, and I’m excited to take them.

I’m trying to explore some of my interests outside of class, too. For instance, I am particularly interested in the idea of the lottery of birth, and helping children who suffer from hunger, child labor, and human trafficking. So I recently joined the UNICEF Club, which raises awareness about and protects children’s rights. I am currently working on a project to promote gender equality. And since the club is new I am excited that I may have the chance to take on a leadership role.

Becoming a journalist is still an option, of course. Nevertheless, I switched my major from Journalism to Communication Arts, which I feel can expand my future possibilities. Communication Arts includes public relations, marketing, and Web design. I have so many areas of study I’m interested in and I’m glad I have the option to change my major again if I want to.

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(NYC-2015-01-07)

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