Dealing with doubt: How Rutgers students handle uncertainty


Doubt about our choices and actions constantly plagues us as college students. We often find ourselves overthinking every choice we make: Is my major right for me? What minor(s) should I pursue? Will I find a job in the future with my chosen major? 

With the Fall 2019 semester registration in full swing, such insecurities only become more apparent among students. As an Art History major myself, self-doubt and a lack of confidence in the future from friends and family consume a lot of personal mental space. 

If an existential crisis has ever hit you while scrolling through Degree Navigator, know you’re not alone. Fifty to 70 percent of American college students will change their majors at least once before the graduate, according to the University of La Verne

The University of La Verne also debunks many myths surrounding the job market and its correlation to academics. Majors are not the be-all and end-all of your future career. In fact, nearly half of college graduates pursue careers unrelated to their majors. Here are some diverse takes on the subject of uncertainty in college. 

DOUBT IS A COMMON TRAIT

Christopher Kozak, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, is planning on majoring in Statistics and has been unsure about the course of his academic career in the past. “I chose my major because of the combination of thought processes that it requires to be successful. My major allows me to utilize the fun problem-solving aspect of my brain while also demanding the rigid math portions to work in conjunction, a perfect combination for me. However, I have questioned my major before due to my weaknesses in some portions of the requirements,” he said.

To stave off hesitancy when it comes to pursuing his academic and professional goals, Kozak encouraged having greater self-confidence and being open-minded about having occasional doubts and slip-ups. “I have constantly reminded myself that I am human, and I am allowed to make mistakes. No one will ever be perfect at anything since there is always room for improvement, so my philosophy is that one aspect of my studies does not define my entire career nor does it impede me from achieving my goals to the fullest of my extent,” he said.

THERE’S NO FORMULA FOR SUCCESS

Hannah Calvelli, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, is passionate about her chosen path and is looking forward to what the future holds. “I chose to major in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry specifically because of the research requirements. There are other majors with similar curriculums such as Genetics and Biological Science, but I wanted to pick something that provided me with the opportunity to take a deep dive into research and see the practical applications of the material I learned in lecture,” she said.

She understood that her coursework does not come without its challenges, and feeling insecure is inevitable and perfectly normal. “I definitely questioned my major at first, especially when taking Organic Chemistry. I initially struggled in this course and as a result, I began to doubt whether I was smart enough to attend medical school in the future. Ultimately, though, I was able to learn how to study more effectively, and I realized that I am determined enough to continue on this path. I think it is important to reflect during periods of uncertainty,” Calvelli said.

MARCH TO THE BEAT OF YOUR OWN DRUM

Kira Harris, a Mason Gross School of the Arts first-year, is confident and excited about her future. “Choosing my major was a bit of a challenge. I had interest in a lot of different fields of study, but at the end of the day, music was the only subject that I couldn't imagine not having at the forefront of my life and my career. Obviously I have my uncertainties and fears about my future. I think everyone does, regardless of their major. But if I’m being honest, I don’t ever doubt that I made the right career choice, because music is where my passion is,” she said.

Harris also demystified stereotypes and myths around arts majors having uncertain future professional prospects. “I thought I’d have a lot more ‘starving artist’ worries coming into college, but I really don’t have many anymore. Being in a prestigious school like MGSA, and at a large university like Rutgers, I have been presented with so many opportunities already just within my first year. So, the worries I had before college have actually lessened since I started college,” she said.


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