You entered college bright-eyed and ready to take on the world. You declared your major and then found yourself second guessing it all. The classwork began to pile up, the exams got harder and you suddenly began questioning if this is even the field you want to be in.
You feel burned out, but it happens to a lot of us. The key, however, is knowing when to take a step back and reevaluate the situation to determine if you’re just stressed out or truly uninterested. Before you lose all hope, try these five ways to fall back in love with your major.
1. Remind yourself why you chose your major in the first place
Before you make any hasty decisions, it’s always best to reflect upon why you started something in the first place. “Make a list of reasons why you choose [your major] in the first place and where you saw yourself going with it at that time,” says Kaitlin Manion, a graduate student at Temple University. “Then make a list of frustrations about why you're ‘falling out of love’ with it and see if there's a solution.” When you are able to see all the reasons you selected your major in the first place, it might help reignite the spark you once had.
2. Understand that every major has its problems
It can be easy to see your friends who chose different majors enjoying their college experience more, whether that be with less schoolwork or more engaging classes. However, everyone’s college journey is unique and is designed to prepare you for your own future. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Understand that every major has its setbacks, and that you may just be experiencing one of those.
3. Seek advice
Sometimes all we need is a pep talk to get us out of our funk. Seeking advice from a professor, counselor, friend or even someone in your desired career field can shed light on your current situation. They might have even experienced the same lull and can give you first-hand knowledge of how to overcome it. Molly Crum, a senior at James Madison University, says, “I always think talking to professionals who had the same major as you when they were in college is helpful when you're feeling uninspired. It's a reminder how what you're learning in your major classes can be applied to the real world and lead you to have a job you love someday.”
4. Focus on the end goal
Oftentimes we find ourselves caught up in the stress of situations and we forget to remind ourselves what we’re working towards. Creating a mini mood board for your dorm room that is covered in inspiring pictures and positive words of affirmation can be a daily motivator to keep going. Or, simply sitting down and writing out all the positive outcomes that come from completing your major can spark new interest. Gillian Bosonetto, Director of Career Development at Mars Hill University says, “It can be helpful to volunteer or even shadow someone in the field that you're thinking of going into, as it connects to your major, to see where the true value of your courses may lie. Summer breaks or internships can be a good opportunity to do get into the field, hands-on. Sometimes just seeing what work is like without the subject knowledge and/or credentials is enough to motivate you again into mastering the subject, or sometimes the light bulb goes on, and you can see why the course that is challenging you is so important."
She also recommends taking a break or trying some alternative courses, if you have the time, as another way to refresh your energy around your original goal. "And if perhaps that original goal was not the right one, you may find another path that attracts and inspires you even more," she says. "There are many paths to fulfilment, and often we come full circle back to our initial choices and preferences, but discover other rewards along the way. No one specific major is the magic silver bullet to career or life success, but not completing any major is likely to be much more frustrating and discouraging in the long run. Be gentle with yourself and seek help as often as needed, but also be honest about how much work and commitment is required. If it was easy, everyone could do it and it wouldn't have as much value. Stay the course, unless you truly have found a better option. Everyone regrets completing a degree—said no one ever!"
5. Branch out
One of the greatest things about college is how many options you have. If you’re uninterested in one of your classes, try taking an elective completely different from your major, in order to balance things out. Abby Piper, a junior at Notre Dame, says, “If you can fit it in your schedule, take some other kinds of classes, whether they be gen-eds or another minor or major. I think anyone would get a little bored of only taking one subject.” Most universities offer a wide-range of minors to add to your major, so seek out new courses and don’t be afraid to ask what your options are.
Remember life greets you with challenges daily, so take this bump in the road like you would any other, and work through it. Good luck, collegiettes!