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What a Meaningful Post-High School Life Looks Like to Me

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

My blueprint for a meaningful post-high school life evolved over time.

At first, it was having a plan for the future and to be a successful young woman in the tech field. As I grew older and my responsibilities grew, I realized that I wanted more than just a title, a position, or a degree. What I truly wanted was happiness.

Without a sense of joy or purpose, all of those other things felt really bleak to me.

I began seeking happiness outside of classes and quickly realized that I wanted more than just my classroom experiences. I began taking up activities that had nothing to do with my major.

High school gives you a sense of structure to be a well-rounded person, but when you are in college, suddenly everything is dependent on a choice. Your schedule is what you make it to be, your classes are when you schedule them to be, and clubs are what you choose to make time for. So how do you prioritize yourself and stick to being true to you? 

As a master’s student, I’ve realized that your needs and wants as a person can evolve and that is completely okay. Do you know how many times people end up working in professions that have nothing to do with their major?

I have learned to follow my heart when it comes to taking up experiences because they have helped me figure out who I am  and what fields intrigue me most. Don’t be afraid to explore new things if it feels right!

People often switch majors because they realized that what they thought they were interested in was not something they could see themselves doing long-term. There can be a lot of stigma in regards to switching majors, and it can be a daunting decision. It may increase the amount of time you have to spend in school, and you may not graduate with your graduating class because of requirements that may not be completed in time in accordance with your anticipated graduation date. With additional time spent in college comes the burden of additional out-of-pocket costs for a student to complete their degree.

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I quickly realized that pursuing a degree takes passion, dedication, and commitment. You only get to experience college once, so why not pursue a degree in something you actually enjoy? If you are happy with your classes and requirements, you are more likely to be diligent about completing your course work, attending classes and office hours, and staying on top of your requirements. In my first semester of college, I realized that a major that I was chasing after since my freshman year of high school was not the major for me. It only took me one semester to realize that while I did enjoy my intended major, there was a better fit for me.

Sometimes, it’s not that you aren’t good at something or that you can’t succeed at your intended major. It’s that there is something else more appealing to you because it is naturally a better fit. Stick with your gut when it comes to choosing a major or applying for internships.

I took up unconventional positions for my degree path throughout my college career and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Each of those opportunities taught me something about myself and what I like and dislike. I learned that I have passions for creativity, graphic art, and teaching along with everything my major entailed.

Had I not been open to different experiences, I would have been stuck in one train of thought: only choosing internships or job roles related to my major. While it is important to take up positions related to your field of study in order to gain practical experience, there is nothing wrong with exploring your passions while in college. Your college years are the years where you figure out the most about yourself, so why not take a leap of faith and try something new? 

Especially during the pandemic, it has become easier for students to become disengaged from learning online. I think it likely even caused younger students to mature more quickly and take on the notion of independent learning much sooner than if they hadn’t been introduced to the concept had a traditional learning environment still been in place for them.

I firmly believe that you can do anything you set your mind to, even during a pandemic. We can do this, and we still have many resources available to help. We have virtual office hours, and we have the ability to do remote learning as well as remote internships. With a bit of guidance from our mentors, professors, and peers, we can still reach out for opportunities of interest to keep ourselves engaged despite the odds against us.

All in all, college should be an enjoyable experience, and while the pandemic and other factors may be interfering with how much joy our college experience is truly bringing us at the moment, we can still strive to be the best version of ourselves through all of it. Choose a major that you love, and take up opportunities that you think you may enjoy because you never know how much you may actually end up liking it. Follow your gut and believe in yourself.

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