Major selection, financial costs should be least of worries

It’s that time of the year again.  Students pack up their summer to head back on campus, the promise of their first batch of exams looming.  Some of these students have worked themselves into the dirt, and will continue to do so, in order to pay for college themselves.  Some of these students are blessed to have someone else footing the bill. 

Most of these students will rack up thousands of dollars of debt this year alone.  Let’s not forget that it seems as though our entire lives hang in the balance when it comes to getting those final scores in just a few short months.  It might, after all – a failing grade for courses that are crucial to your degree may seem like a death sentence. 

Additionally, a lot of students moving from their first year to their second year may be considering a change in their major.  By the way, don’t stress any of it – because stress does nothing for your grades. 

It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?  Especially if you are a freshman, but stressing yourself out is an even worse thing to do. 

In this article, I’ll be covering some interesting information about the major issues college students may face, or at least the most popular issues, and debunk a big misconception about college finances.  Before we get into the meat of it: the finances will figure themselves out eventually.  If you’re working through the semester, make a schedule so you don’t sell yourself short on studying.  (I say this as I have yet to form one myself…do as I say, not as I do, perhaps?) 

Finances are important with college, but it’s more important that you know yourself and how much studying time it’ll take for you to excel in your classes.  Paying for school is important, but it’s also important that you actually pass the classes you’re paying for.  This seems like a balancing act, yes?  So why not rely on help from other people?

If you aren’t paying for your classes and are receiving help from a family member or someone else (or if you’re the person footing the bill for the student), keep this in mind: according to an article from Forbes.com, students who receive a lot of help to get through college actually tend to get lower grades than those who work for it themselves, with only some help. (The exceptions being kids from wealthy families and the finding that students who paid their way entirely tended to drop out due to financial reasons.)  So while it may be difficult to balance a job and schoolwork, perhaps it’s actually the better option. 

Bottom line here, I think it’s pretty important that students at least find work study through the school, find a job elsewhere – or do both.  No, you won’t get the best job ever.  It’ll be icky and you’ll probably hate it.  Yeah, flipping burgers isn’t glamorous, but it teaches you a lot of things: work ethic, time management, how to deal with coworkers that might be a little prickly, and a myriad of other things.  You’ll also be ahead of the game for future jobs because you’ll already have experience in the work force. 

You can’t always learn or obtain these things in school, so your time counting down the days until you get a new job may actually prove to be invaluable.  It also may teach you how many cups of cheap coffee a day you can consume just to keep yourself going, but that’s irrelevant.

Changing majors: Halfway through your first year of school, you decide you hate the major you chose?  Uh-oh.  It’s actually more of a common issue than what you might think; I was honestly rather surprised by the numbers I found pertaining to this.  Therefore, another major problem that college students may find themselves in is, indeed, their major. 

According to an article by Liz Freedman from Butler College, as found on Penn State University’s The Mentor, an estimated 20 to 50 percent of students enter college with their major as undeclared, and up to 75 percent change their major at least once before graduation.  The article goes on to explain that some first-year assistance or courses designed to help students decide their major would be beneficial.

I believe that this is absolutely correct, but in the event that these courses or programs cannot be obtained by the student, it’s so, so important to study your major and your future dream job, and decide if this is really what you want to do for the rest of your life.  However, don’t let grades alone be your deciding factor. 

Don’t think you’re unable to be a nurse, a neuroscientist, a teacher or a calculus professor just because of a few bad grades…instead, understand that this means you need to get down to business and study a little harder.  Einstein was told he was too stupid to be in school, for goodness’ sake.

Lifestyle choices: If you’re struggling with your grades but you still want to pursue your major, you have to look at your lifestyle over the course of that semester and recognize that perhaps stress even affected your grades, and try to learn how to manage stress so it doesn’t affect future courses.  This is especially important if you’re a worrier. 

The only exception to this concept is if you don’t like the classes, or just found out that the subject matter of your major isn’t what you’re interested in. 

If you’re not interested in the topics you’ll be working as a professional in, then by all means, the major won’t work out and you should find one that you’re genuinely passionate about.  It’s incredibly important to spend time in introspection to decide this, however, it is absolutely not a snap decision to be made.

Above all, don’t forget that college is a bumpy ride, but it’s a privilege to be on this ride.  Don’t be discouraged when hardships come (and they will).  Learn from them and keep pushing forward.  Find a couple of things to do that help relieve stress – that stress will likely always be present and accounted for.

Make sure you pursue what you’re passionate about, and never give up through said hardships.  Don’t forget to enjoy the ride and learn to become the best person you can be.  Finally, may the grading curves be with you.

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