Today, we’re going to tackle one from the putty mail bag:
“Hi! I was wondering if you could write an article for students. I am aware uni is not too far away and as a multipotentialite I am struggling when it comes to what to study. I would love to hear your thoughts on whether we should study what currently interests us (even if that interest could die the day after we get accepted or it is some very focused interest like astrophysics), whether we should study something more general like english (even if we aren’t burning to do so) or whether we should study something completely different. I would also be interested in whether you think that what we study in uni really matters to which job we get in the future.”
If I could go back to school and study any major, I would probably take up intercultural studies, a fun fusion between anthropology and sociology. But what if the professional options don’t interest you? What do you do with a degree when you don’t want to pursue the particular field, or don’t know what you want to pursue? As a multipotentialite, it can be difficult to figure out what to take up in college. The question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” is alive and well.
Here are my top six tips to making the most of college:
College can be a fun experience but it can also be stressful trying to figure out the rest of your life. The good news is that you don’t have to. College is the perfect time to explore, especially if you don’t know what you want to do.
Not only does college give you a structured learning environment, it can also give you community, friends, and some of the best times of your life. You don’t need a purpose, just find out what subjects would be most fun to take, and take them.
2. Take classes that currently interests you
There’s no time like now. For every philosophy major wondering what he/she can do with a philosophy degree, the answers become philosophical. It’s what you make of it.
Instead of worrying about what to take or what to major in, why not become a student for the sake of learning? What fascinates you currently? Always go for what interests you now, even if it may not interest you later. You never know how following your curiosity might help you in the future. After all, it took the late and great Steve Job’s stumbling on a calligraphy class to years later give him the typographic appreciation to make Apple’s clean, minimalistic and beautiful design that it is today.
3. Consider the idea of double majoring or pairing a major with a minor
If you have plenty of interests and a willingness to learn, sometimes deciding on just one major or path may not be enough. You can always consider double majoring or pairing your major with a minor. It will take more work, but this may be the perfect multipotentialite solution for studying something specific. What pairings complement each other?
4. Weigh your options
SATs and GPAs don’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things, but it may matter if you want to get into a better university. Weigh your options and look at each school’s philosophy as well as statistics for during and after college. It may be helpful to create a list of pros and cons for each school you’re thinking of applying to.
Does the school or program’s philosophy revolve around interdisciplinary learning? Does it have programs that will allow you to pair majors? Are extracurriculars like sports or music important to you and does the school offer them? How does the school help alumni’s in job placement, and what are the statistics around getting jobs within their specific major?
When I went to art school, I had to sacrifice the fact that there were no sports teams or orchestras to join but since I took a very specific route, my payoff was on very focused classes to learn my trade, and getting job placement assistance that helped me find a graphic design job within two weeks.
5. Pursue internships or apprenticeships
Internships are not necessarily required but it can give you an advantage and look good on your resume when applying to jobs after college. If you don’t know what you want to do after college and you’ve opted for a more generalized degree, taking a specific internship in your junior and/or senior years once you’ve got more time to figure out a path is an excellent step in the right direction towards the particular career you want.
If you’re still unsure what to pursue after college by junior or senior year, don’t sweat it. Internships can be the perfect place to carve out what you like and don’t like. For example, I took an internship at an ad agency and discovered I did not have a burning passion for advertising and that it practically made my skin crawl. Nevertheless, finding that out was still a valuable lesson, and my time was never wasted.
6. Consider a study abroad program
Most universities and colleges have a study abroad program and being able to learn abroad can be invaluable, life-enriching experiences. I will always advocate traveling, experiencing new cultures, and broadening your world view and wished I had taken a study abroad program. A structured environment that allows you to get school credit for learning abroad makes it an excellent way to learn and see the world. Learning and creativity is automatically enhanced in a new and different environment.
Generalized or Specific?
Unless you are certain you want a specific career that takes higher education to get there, such as an engineer, doctor, or lawyer, a generalized degree will do the job just fine, especially if you’re unsure what you want to pursue.
Programs like Liberal Arts, Cultural Studies and Psychology are popular choices among multipotentialites, but really there’s no one way of doing it. Take a look at your current interests, look for schools/programs with interdisciplinary philosophies and get creative by considering different majors and minors that you could pair up.
Your 20s are an experimental time to try things out and see what you like and don’t like in both career and relationships. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have it all figured out now. Some people spend their whole lives “figuring it out.” Realize that you don’t have to know what happens next, and that’s ok. For now, relax, breathe and have fun!
How did you approach (or how are you approaching) your college education as a multipotentialite?