How I Chose My College Major (and Advice to Help You Choose Yours)

I’m not particularly a visual person.

My mom is a real estate broker and we were looking at empty houses about a week ago. Inside the house, my mom could say, “And this is where the couch could go. This is where a bed could go.” While I did nod along, I really couldn’t see it like she could. My sister studied Visual Communications, so she’s great at looking at a kitchen and deciding which color the walls should be painted. My mind doesn’t work that way.

As an English major, my fellow friends are writers, such as myself. We write short stories, little screenplays or poems sometimes and share them with each other for critical feedback. It’s just something we do, even if it sounds a bit strange. I was messaging my friend about a little short story I was working on and sent her an opening scene, explaining how it would fall in the story.

“I can just see it so clearly,” I told my friend. It’s something I say quite a lot when it comes to my writing. I can see the world, I can see the characters, I can hear them speaking to each other. Finding a way to translate what I am seeing to written word, can take a bit of time and it’s a skill I think I will always be working to master. I feel this way in my career as well. Currently, I am working in marketing and when I am assigned a new project, I can grasp a solid vision of what the end result will look like instantly.

But, I’m not a visual person. How can I not see what a living room could like, but I can see my writing come to life everyday?

There’s a Walt Disney quote I admire that goes, “If you can visualize it, if you can dream it, there’s some way to do it.”

It’s a good thing I chose my major to be based around storytelling, because that’s truly the only thing I can see so well. When I am working on marketing campaigns, copywriting, creative writing, etc. I work based around the story I see in my head. How people will react seeing it or reading it, and who will be the audience at all. It’s what I am good at and I’m beyond thrilled I ended up pursing that industry. But, I really almost didn’t.

First, I wanted to study creative writing when I was in middle school. I loved writing. I loved sharing stories. This seemed to be the thing for me to do.

By high school, my inner logical side slipped in. What was I really going to do with a creative writing degree? (There’s probably a lot, but at the time, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.) I applied for Business Management.

Why? I dunno. It seemed like the right thing to do. I felt like I could do a lot with it, how could you go wrong?

I considered being a music teacher or maybe an anthropologist, but there was always someone to talk me out of why that wouldn’t be a solid career path. I had this artificial belief that once you jump on a path when you’re eighteen, you have to follow it for the rest of your life.

I really loved movies and television, so screenplay writing was a huge interest of mine. Again, I was convinced it wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

After a year of applying to colleges, receiving rejection and acceptance letters, I ended up enrolling in a state school for Business Management. I was having dinner in the town the state school was located with my parents who spent the day looking at apartments with me that I couldn’t afford. I looked at the town, it’s a cute little area, but I didn’t see myself there at all. Even as a lack-luster visual person, I knew I couldn’t see myself here. I knew this wasn’t what I was supposed to do.

“I don’t want to do this,” I said to them. They looked at each other before looking at me. I was only a few weeks away from graduating high school. “I don’t want to live here. I don’t want to go to this school.”

Later that week, I met with a community college counselor that I connected with at my front desk job. She asked me my plans for graduation, when I told her my lack of them, she invited me into her office to discuss my options.

We made a pretty easy-going plan for me to receive my AA in Music Business, since the classes seemed interesting, in hopes that I can transfer to a university in Nashville. But, this logical voice in my head was ringing, what this really the right thing to do? Would I even get into the university or would I just have an AA in a degree with a very limited career field?

A friend of mine at the time convinced me to meet with a university counselor for the first school I applied to. With no life plan and a graduation gown hanging in the closet, I was completely defeated. I knew I wanted to go to college. I knew I had so much more to learn, but I didn’t know how look past the doubt.

The counselor sat me down, showed me a course guide for, you guessed it, Business Management. And I was extremely disinterested in the program. She could see it on my face.

“What do you see yourself doing?” She asked me.

“I don’t know anymore.” I shrugged.

“What do you like to do?”

“… I like to write.” I said finally. She grabbed an IPad and showed me a program called, English with an emphasis in Professional Writing. My eyes lit up. This sounded exactly like what I wanted to study and I didn’t even know it. I enrolled in the program that night.

After a public speaking class my first semester with the head of the Communications department, she spoke with me after class and asked if I would be interested in switching to the Communications major. She saw a lot of potential for me in the classes. I really liked my writing major, but Communications did interest me. I spoke with my counselor and she had me fill out a piece of paper to double major. Once I was approved, I was launched on a path with a double major and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love both of my majors. With only four classes left, I am thrilled with the majors I chose and sitting here today, I can’t believe I almost was a Business major. I can see myself in a few different career fields and no matter where I end up, I see myself being happy. That’s what it’s all about, right? Living a life of filled with happiness and purpose.

If I was telling you this story in person, I would tell you God held my hand when I was eighteen and pointed me on a path I didn’t know I wanted to be on. He saw my struggle. He saw my worry and He took control.

But, since I don’t personally know your religious beliefs, nor would I ever judge you for them, here’s what I can tell you.

If you can see it in your head, you can achieve it. Do not choose a major because it feels like “the right thing” or “the safe thing” to do. Choose a major that lights your heart on fire. That sparks your interests. That gives you purpose. That gives you happiness.

Change your mind and change it again. Find the path you were created to walk on.

My biggest college regret was not taking a screenplay writing class, because I always felt like there was something more important to take. But telling stories, that’s important to me and that should’ve been more than enough for me to pursue.

I’m never done learning. Even once a graduation gown hangs in my closet again in a few months, I know I will stare at a maze, have to grow up and decide where to turn. What I know now that I didn’t know then is to make decisions for me. To follow my passions. To be okay if I get hurt. To be okay if I make mistakes. To live a life I see myself living.

And to be the person who I see myself to be.