Grad school research, GRE preparation and stalking professors for recommendation letters — senior year has arrived! Since the start of my last year at Binghamton University, I’ve been preparing myself for what will be the final stretch of my academic career (graduate school) and contemplating the reality of closing the chapter of my undergraduate experience.
So it’s only right that I get swept up in the tide of sentiment and nostalgia, even though I’m still months away from graduation. Reminiscing about my days as an anxious freshman makes me appreciate how far I’ve come as a student and an individual.
Those memories also compel me to inquire about the memories I will make as an adult in the real world, and if the career path I’ve chosen will truly grant me the happiness I hope it will.
You may think that it’s too late to ask about happiness, especially if you’re already three or four years into your major. Truth is, it’s never too late to ask if what you choose to study during your college career and plan on dedicating the rest of your life to will make you happy. It’s probably the most important question you can ask during your college experience.
Especially for you freshmen — ask it, and ask often.
Whether you’ve entered college ready to pursue that dream career you’ve wanted since 8th grade or walked in unsure of where to start, it’s important to prioritize your interests. A fundamental part of doing that is deciding what will make you happy — and not an ephemeral happiness, but the kind that will endure long after you receive your degree and have become an expert in your field.
Surely upward mobility and a high salary are desirable when picking a major and even more so a career. On the other hand, those shouldn’t be the only attractive aspects about a major or job. The potential for success and fat checks is possible in almost any field, so there has to be an X factor that defines one’s motive for picking a particular field and career.
Let that X factor be your happiness, your passion for the field. Don’t let the motive for majoring in biology be defined by your parents’ expectations. Don’t be forced into following the trend of majoring in English because your friends are doing it. Follow your intuition, even if the strength of the economy is uncertain.
If you’re having trouble discerning where your heart lies, then allow it to get lost in the classes you choose. Take a painting course, dabble in philosophy and try Taekwondo. Until the time comes to decide who you are and who you want to be for the rest of your life, learn who you can be.
Fall in love with the writer within. Then become enthralled with your inner sociologist. Four years may not seem like a lot of time to discover the various paths you can take, but it is. Take that time to learn your true passions, before time makes you learn that success does not always equate to happiness.