From the time kids are young, they are constantly bombarded with questions regarding a future career. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question often evokes responses such as ballerina, President, veterinarian, or basketball player. As kids mature, their responses change due to altering interests and realistic possibilities. Suddenly, it is senior year of high school. Students are urged to select a college and figure out what field of study to pursue. This is a daunting, nerve-wracking decision. High school students face additional pressures to perform academically, athletically, musically, and socially.
With large decisions looming overhead and daily pressures at school, it is common for high school students to feel overwhelmed, and why wouldn’t this be the case?
My senior year of high school, I had no idea what career would be best for me. I was involved in a variety of teams and organizations and I did not have a predisposition in any subject. I felt adrift. I felt as though not being able to define a specific career path interest made me a failure in some way. I wanted so badly to feel like I was able to successfully leverage my strengths and define a major. When I decided to attend Grove City College after I was accepted Early Decision, I was relieved to have ended the college search process. However, I latched onto a new cause of stress: declaring a major.
I did not end up declaring a major until spring finals week of freshman year. I survived a year of dodging extended family questions about future plans at holiday gatherings. I was able to withstand awkward introductions with peers who wish to remember you simply by your name and major. I took classes in a variety of disciplines. If I can do it, you can to. I want to encourage anyone who is facing a similar situation, because I have been there. And I am here to say that it is perfectly okay to be undeclared.
I know you have probably heard that before. At this point, you might even be more frustrated every time someone tries to comfort you with these words. But guess what? You do not have to know exactly what you want to do right away, even if your best friends do. Maybe you will even declare a major and it will change, and then change again. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. I wish I would have spent more time excitedly embracing courses and opportunities instead of being focused on frustrations when a discipline did not quite work for me. The best academic advice I can give is to be strategic in experimenting. Try to evaluate your strengths and define personal goals. Align your major with what you know to be true about yourself.
But this is not the advice I want to stress.
A beautiful component of big decisions like college majors is that God allows us to choose. He does not (in many cases) make a future career very clear. Rather, we should seek to find rest in Him. We should rejoice in his sovereignty and goodness, and trust in His plan. At the end of the day, it is important to remember that as Christians, our identity does not come from a college major; it comes from Christ. If your identity rests in Christ, you should be relieved. Your biggest, daunting decision has already been made. You have made the life- altering choice to become a Christian. The smaller pieces, like college majors, will fall into place. Seek the Lord, and wholeheartedly commit to trusting his plan.
Reflect on Jeremiah 29:11, a verse that has become very meaningful to me. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”