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Why your inability to choose a major is your greatest strength

I am a sophomore whose major changes every hour of every day. I have bounced between everything from CAMS to political science, history to art history, and biology to French (fun fact: I’ve never taken a biology class at Carleton). The only thing that comforts me when I wallow in the pits of my indecisiveness is that my struggle is not singular to me, but is reflective of a common battle amongst Carls against our own combatting interests. 

If I had a dollar for every Carl that I have heard say, “Oh my god, I cannot believe we have to declare next term,” I might just have enough money to fund a search party to find Lyman (#findlyman). It is a struggle that almost defines the Carleton experience, for the first time in most of our lives we are given the personal responsibility to craft an academic career that is singularly ours. For an extremely long time I thought that my inability to choose one overarching passion that would inform the rest of my life meant that I was less self-aware or responsible than my peers, and I was somehow failing myself or my family by leaving my future in what I thought was a precarious position. Maybe it was the intense introspection that we all suffered during quarantine, or maybe it was the societal reckoning that occured over the course of 2020, but I figured out just how misplaced my concerns were. To all students who find themselves in a constant struggle to choose a major, your indecision is exactly what Carleton wants. You are not failing to commit, but exploring a myriad of interests that speak to your uniqueness. The career paths you dream of pursuing do not live and die with what box you pick for a major on the Hub, but are influenced by the opportunities and experiences afforded to you through a diverse educational experience. 

This is not to say that the major that you choose has no influence over your future and I hold great respect for the students who have been able to navigate their academic experience with certainty, but the pressure that many Carl’s experience does not match the scale of the ramifications for what would be the “wrong” choice. However, it is extremely difficult to make the “right” choice, and it is hard not to feel that American education ultimately puts us on a track that culminates in this decision. Therefore, my question is this: what happens when you finally graduate and leave behind the ladder of educational institutions that we are all too familiar with? This question is one that I have wrestled with and gives me both comfort and anxiety when I think of the ways in which we, as students, have grown used to the institutions that, for many of us, are the only reality we have known. 

The struggle of choosing a major is more reflective of your character and aspirations than the decision itself. Your indecisiveness should be a source of pride as it is indicative of the individuality you bring to not only Carleton, but your future. 

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