Aug 292011
Authors: Libby Williams, Emily Kribs

Emily Kribs, freshman

What’s your name? What’s your major?”

These two questions are staples of conversation every time I meet someone new. Even without that less-than-subtle indicator, the fact that my future will depend on my degree suggests that it just might be important.

Now, it seems like if a school offers a major, it should be applicable in some career path. But let’s face it. There’s a few like philosophy that are only worthwhile if you want to teach a class on the subject. I just ran a Google search on this to double-check, and sure enough: “You can teach philosophy, or you can double major.” (I’m paraphrasing here.)

Of course, I’m no one to talk. My current intended major in international studies is my way of being an overzealous undeclared. Sure, I’m taking French and Spanish, and I like them both. But unless I want to be a translator, teach or double major, those have a lot of potential to be useless.

To be fair, that’s the story with a lot of majors. Once upon a time, our parents could major in anything and get a decent job just because they had a college degree. These days, if you’re not triple majoring with a minor in business, you’re screwed.

Mind you, you’ll still want to finish college so you can get that competitive position working the cash register at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Worse things have happened, of course. But as a freshman charged with making arrangements for the rest of my life, that cashier’s innocent remark of, “CSU? Oh, I went there too,” was more than a little daunting.

More unsettling still are the people I meet who do know precisely what they’re going to do for a living and how to achieve that. I’ve heard that the average college student will change their major twice in the course of their academic career. Personally, I’m already halfway there. So who are these freaks that know for a fact they want to get a degree in hydrology, and have known since 10th grade?

There are plenty of people out there who are more than willing to help a floundering freshman figure out their future. But ultimately it always boils down to the question of, “What do you like to do?” Most answers that first come to mind don’t lend themselves to a viable profession, I can tell you that.

And speaking as someone who only decided that ducks are my favorite animals in the last month, I just think I’m a little under-qualified to be making this sort of decision.

Libby Williams, senior

The job market has become so competitive these days. Entry-level positions are the starting places for people trying to climb the corporate ladder. Sure, it seems pretty pathetic to get a degree from a prestigious university, stay in the town where you went to college and wind up calling for price checks on cutting boards, but maybe being a cashier at Bed, Bath & Beyond is a good starting place for an aspiring interior designer.

The reality is, once we get that diploma, we’ve all got to start somewhere.

I’ve been in Emily’s shoes, and I can understand the confusion of choosing a major that will hopefully land you a job. As a prospective college student, I did what we all do. I looked at the things I did in high school, pinpointed my successes and based my first major off of that.
I spent two years in an animal science program, but when I looked into the future, I couldn’t see myself ranching or selling feed. Now, I didn’t actually search it out, but I found my real drive through class work.

Yes, I said it, that thing everyone dreads, that thing everyone puts off until the night before… class work. After I turned in a write-up, my composition professor suggested I think about changing my major to something that would take advantage of my writing talents.

So I did what any logical person would: I added another degree. Not only that, but I added the degree when I was a junior. I didn’t know exactly where a separate technical journalism degree would land me, but that decision lengthened my academic calendar by a couple years.

Now that I am 16 credits away from being handed two different sheets of paper,
representing two totally different fields of study, I almost feel like I’m back at stage one. I’m back on the same page as those freshmen, wondering if their decision to become an international studies major will eventually make them money.

I’ve come to the conclusion that you need to pursue your passions while in college, and the rest will hopefully fall into place. Sometimes it takes actually doing class work to find your true passions, and I get it, doing homework really sucks. But by going to class, I’ve found a love for communicating agricultural issues. Even if my first job doesn’t put me in a position to be dealing directly with agriculture, I have the tools to work my way into a perfect career.

As a freshman, find what you love, take advantage of CSU and let the university give you those tools. And don’t be afraid to start somewhere like Bed, Bath & Beyond. It might just be the perfect entry point to lead you to that ideal career.

 Posted by at 4:06 pm

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