I have always been an incredibly indecisive person.
My dream occupations switched weekly through high school, and I felt like I would never find something that would stick. I often let big decisions be influenced by things I had seen on TV or something incredibly unrealistic like that. I wanted to be a botanist after watching The Martian, a race car driver after watching Rush, and a computer analyst after watching Snowden. My mom’s personal favorite was when I wanted to be an anesthesiologist after bingeing Grey’s Anatomy, and I couldn’t even pronounce it without asking her how to. The occupation that finally stuck was being a lawyer after legitimate research and interest in the field.
When I went to college, I heard the statistic that 80% of college students change their major at least once. Being the indecisive and overachieving person I am, I decided to raise the bar on that statistic, and I changed my major not once, not twice, but three times. I think I had it coming when I realized that “Attorney” wasn’t a major and had to choose something else.
I found myself landing on accounting and finance my freshman year, not only because I thought wanted to study business law later in life but primarily because I thought that I could pull off a pantsuit really well. However, wanting to wear a pantsuit was not enough to keep me in the major as I had legitimately never been so bored in my life; the drool on my binders was definitely proof of that. My second semester in, I began planning my schedule for the next semester, and the class FINAN 450 loomed ahead. I knew that I needed to get out of the College of Business as soon as possible.
During quarantine, my mom and I binged the entirety of Criminal Minds together, and I can’t even describe how quickly I sent out the email to switch my major. I was taken with the glamorized perception of how the criminal justice system worked and was convinced that I had what it took to either be a criminal prosecutor or maybe, just maybe, an FBI agent. My mom encouraged me to do some more research about working for the FBI, and as soon as I saw the fitness exam that was required, I knew that I definitely would never see the inside of the FBI headquarters. I made it exactly one semester being a Criminology student before wanting to switch again.
I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my roommates, trying to figure out what major I was going to select. I had to get it right this time, or else I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time with the rest of my friends, and being left behind absolutely terrified me. I knew that I couldn’t keep basing my decisions on what I was watching and that this was something that I needed to do completely on my own. With English classes always being my favorite in high school, loving to read and write, and always editing papers and stories for fun, English just made sense.
I, for once, felt secure in my future, despite the constant harassment of “what can you even do with a degree in English?” from my parents and peers. When I say constant, I mean I was dodging calls left and right from my dad, who “just wanted to talk.”
I feel that question should instead be: “What can’t you do with a degree in English?”
Aside from the obvious engineer and architect, an English degree offers possibilities ranging from editing, writing, interpreting, managing, and even teaching in another country. English offers so many career opportunities outside the ones that initially come to mind. After all, I want to use my English degree to practice law and have an inkling that I may be one of the few in law school who previously studied English.
Switching my major multiple times and finally settling on the English department has flipped my college experience completely – and in the best way possible. While I am still absolutely terrified of the future, as are most college students, I feel a lot more secure now that I am studying English. But who knows, there’s always time for me to switch again!
— Josie Carey (BA ’22)