Risking a major to follow passion

Risking a major to follow passion

Emily Doran

With class registration open for the upcoming fall and winter semesters, the Grand Valley State University student body has inevitably divided. On the one hand, there are students who are confidently selecting classes according to their predetermined majors, and on the other, there are students who are frantically researching different career paths so that they can make informed decisions when filling out their schedules.

I belong to this second category and it’s just as unpleasant as it sounds. Although I’m preparing to enter my sophomore year of college, I am still unsure about what I want to major in.

My indecisiveness stems from my uncertainty about career paths. When I was younger and gave much less thought and credence to pragmatism, I had the goal of becoming a concert pianist. But then I grew older and began to feel the pressing force of reality as I struggled with the fact that I couldn’t devote the hours to practicing if I wanted to participate in other extracurricular activities. Later, I wanted to be a writer and, admittedly, part of me still fantasizes about working as an editor at an upscale New York magazine or publishing company.

But then I inevitably consider that I also value job security – perhaps even more than I value “following my dreams.” After all, I think independence and the ability to provide for oneself and one’s family are of the utmost importance. So as much as I would like to major in English, for example, I cringe to think that I would be spending thousands of dollars in exchange for a completely uncertain future.

I know that some people might be thrilled at this prospect of uncertainty, viewing it instead as an opportunity for adventure. How bland would it be, they argue, to have your life completely planned out by the time you’re 18 or 19?

I can certainly understand the appeal of this logic, at least to an extent. Still, I might reason that there’s little use in pursuing what you love if you’re never going to be able to do anything with it anyway.

I know too many people who majored in artistic fields – much like I always wanted to do – and are now living dependently on others, working high school jobs and hoping to catch their lucky breaks. At that point, I might argue that it would have been much more worth their while to have majored in something practical, because they have to pay bills and put food on the table either way.

Still, there’s something to be said for the people who are gutsy enough to risk everything, including security, to pursue their passions. Sometimes, when people have the courage to go for it, they have what it takes to make it all the way and really turn their passions into careers. I can applaud their ambition and work ethic, while also recognizing the sacrifices they had to make and the odds they had to overcome in order to turn their dreams into realities.

These are the thoughts running through my mind as I register for classes. Do I pursue a practical major, like engineering or accounting, or do I risk everything to study the arts? I suspect that, ultimately, I will land somewhere in the middle.

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