Right now, you probably feel like you’re being forced to make decisions that will determine the course of the rest of your life. We’re here to tell you that they won’t—and that you’re going to be fine!
While it might feel like picking the right school, the right major, the right place to live, and the right friends are going to be the difference between instant success and permanent misery, the truth is that there’s no one right way to do anything (except your taxes, there really is only one way to do those).
And, luckily, even if you do discover that your major isn’t what you thought it would be or your school isn’t exactly the best fit, you can always change your mind and try something else.
Facing Down Indecision
As you’re getting ready to confront all of these choices, it might be helpful to apply a couple of tips and tricks for minimizing feelings of doubt. Here are a few ways you can try to figure out what feels right before it’s crunch time:
Pros & Cons
The tried and true pros and cons list is always a great place to start. You might feel like you’ve got all the important details stored away in your head, but sometimes providing a visual or textual aid can be incredibly helpful. Whether you’re a spreadsheet whiz or a venn diagram devotee, comparing options side by side makes evaluation much easier.
Not sure which residence hall seems right for you? Try laying out attributes like room size, distance from the buildings you need to frequent the most, or (if you’re feeling food-motivated) proximity to a dining hall. Maybe your favorites are equidistant to a library, so you can ignore that stipulation, but one offers more space. Now you can focus on the relevant differences rather than trying to keep track of everything all up in your noggin.
Rediscover Your Instincts
Although it may sound counterintuitive, you could also try removing choice from the equation. Decide on a couple of “this or that”-type options: STEM or humanities, north campus or south campus living, etc. Then ask someone to make a choice for you—or, if you feel uncomfortable involving another person, assign your variables to the sides of a coin and flip it. How do you feel about their answer or the results of your coin toss? Are you relieved or disappointed?
This exercise forces you to rely on instinctual or gut reactions, which can give the best clues when you’re trying to determine a concrete answer to a topic you can no longer make heads or tails of.
Talk It Out
Most likely, the people around you also want to know what you’re going to do next. However, it can be difficult to field questions from those around you when you haven’t yet answered them for yourself. Everyone wants to share their experience with you, but how are you supposed to know what’s good advice and when another adult is trying to secretly live vicariously through you?
Even though it can be overwhelming to feel like you’re surrounded by others’ input, engaging in conversation about your future can be a very useful tool. Ask questions, bounce your ideas off willing listeners, and sift through the advice to focus on what seems most relevant to you. Search out family and friends who have attended the universities you’re considering and ask them about their experiences, like where they lived while they were in school, what their decision process looked like, or even whether they think the culture matches your vibe.
By being curious, holding conversations with well-meaning onlookers, and asking general questions, you’ll have many avenues through which to explore your options. Be mindful, though, that you don’t let your thoughts get lost in the shuffle! In the end, the most important opinion is your own.
Everyone Starts Somewhere
No matter what it may feel like, you have time, and you always have more options.
If becoming the next great accountant doesn’t turn out to be as exciting as you thought it would be, you can always try something else from our extensive list of majors and minors. Perhaps you’re an undiscovered French prodigy, or you’ve got a burning penchant for teaching lying dormant inside you just waiting to shine through. You can try almost anything and adjust from there!
Plus, there are always people and resources to help you. Admissions counselors, professors, parents, staff, and even other students are eager to share their knowledge with you and offer guidance if you need it, or give you space to experiment if you’ve got an independent streak. The people in your life and at your university want to see you succeed as much as you want to do well!
Or, you know, you can always lie down in the middle of the perfectly aesthetic field of your choosing and gaze up into the sky until the spirits of academics past reveal what you’re looking for. Whatever works for you.
The good news is, few things are truly permanent if you don’t want them to be. These days, even tattoos are removable for those with a high pain tolerance and an unbeatable sense of regret.
Regardless of how big the choices you’re facing may seem, they don’t have to be with you forever. You live and you learn, and sometimes learning means trying some things that aren’t quite right before you figure out what is right. You just have to choose something.
Whichever path you find yourself on will be a good one so long as you allow yourself to be flexible. If something isn’t working, it’s up to you to either commit or make changes, but the exciting part is that it really is up to you!
Your success and your happiness might look different than that of others’ around you, but remember: There are no wrong decisions, only different ways to get to the desired destination.