A lot of my friends, who are seniors in high school, have just finished applying to colleges and universities throughout the nation. However, during the few months before the application deadline, a lot of them came to me for advice about choosing their majors. Most of them were worried about this decision that they perceived would determine their future. I told them to think about what they like to do the most… they didn’t have a clue. Still wanting to help them, I told them how I decided to become a nursing major.
Originally I wanted to become a doctor. Whenever someone would get sick I would always ask the question why. Why did we sweat when we had a fever? Why were we encouraged to gurgle salt water when we had a sore throat? During my sophomore year in high school, a lot of these questions were answered in AP Biology class. This course got me hooked onto the idea that, after college and med school, I could be out there helping friends, family, and patients become healthier individuals.
Then my mom became a nurse. She would come home and tell me about all these interesting things she saw during her clinicals and how much she loved the profession. I, being open-minded, decided to experience just exactly what she was raving about. Over the summer of junior year, I applied for a volunteer position at a local hospital. I shared my purpose with the volunteer coordinator and was assigned to work in the Emergency Room twice a week. To be honest, all I did in the ER was read my English book so I could get a head start on the assigned pages. I didn’t really get to see what nurses did as the ER was extremely fast-paced and the rooms were closed when the nurses were interacting with patients. Nonetheless, I decided to become a nurse during the first semester of senior year.
I applied to Case, got in, and came here because of its unique nursing program (the clinical experience at Case starts freshmen year, whereas other schools' start junior year). I wanted to make sure that, if I didn’t want to become a nursing major, I would know right away so I could switch majors as soon as possible. At first nursing was okay. I didn’t fall in love with it as much as my mother did, but I didn’t hate it. I did despise waking up at 5:55AM for clinical, but once I was in the hospital, time easily passed by (a good sign). I still wasn’t completely convinced I wanted to be a nurse… I was really just biding my time and hoping for something that would push me over the top.
That push came one Thursday morning during lab. My lab instructor was talking about how nursing helps you overcome your fears of public speaking, fears of doing things you never thought you could do before. With those few words, I realized that this was everything I wanted from a profession. I realized that nursing was what I wanted to do all along. And with this realization, I learned that I really didn't have that much information to go off of when I checked that box under the list of majors when I was applying here. Frankly, my intention of pleasing my mother outweighed the confidence that nursing was the major for me. And yet, I did it without knowing what would happen when I actually started learning and experiencing nursing. People are scared when they apply to college. A lot don't know what they want to dedicate their lives to, and that's perfectly natural. It was in class, halfway through the school year, on a Thursday morning after a tough week that I got the confirmation I needed.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s perfectly okay to not know what you want to do when you’re applying to college. Why else would colleges make “undecided” a choice for a major. Sure you’ll meet plenty of people who tell you what major they are and what they want to do in their future, but the chances of them changing their majors in the next week, month, year are extremely high. The funny thing is, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s perfectly normal! There are so many opportunities (frats, events, organizations, classes, faculty, peers, etc.) that you have access to that will help open your eyes and let you determine where your interests lie.
I was the lucky case (haha.. case… CWRU.. okay never mind). I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, and my inkling was confirmed relatively early on in the year. But, hey, you never know. Next thing you know, I might be blogging about how I got struck by lightening and decided to become a European literature major (god forbid… I despise English). If you leave with anything from reading this absurdly long post today, just know that 1) it’s okay to not know what you’re going to major in and 2) you never know when that moment will hit you