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Choosing the right major for you

FGCU offers more than 50 majors with certain majors including individual concentrations in various areas. As a result of this, choosing a major can be a daunting task, especially when piled onto the stress that comes with your first year of college. A new environment, new people, new classes and a newfound sense of responsibility are enough to drive even the toughest people over the edge. With the added stress of choosing a major, which has the potential to determine the course of your future, brains tend to reach maximum overload.

At some point in their lives, each and every person will have to ask themselves, “Where do I belong in this world?” Although some might reach self-discovery at a young age, others may take a lifetime and continuously change course.

Kristi Maselter, a junior nursing major, said that she started out wanting to be a cabinetmaker then considered culinary school before transitioning to engineering in hopes of making a decent living.

“I went through a ton of transitions, where I realized different things about myself, like, ‘Oh, man, I hate math, so why would I be an engineer?’” Maselter said. “Finally, after a great deal of soul searching, I realized I wanted to be a nurse as a way to sort of combine all of my passions.”

Maselter is not the only student on campus who has been fickle about his or her decisions.

“Even though my major is civil engineering currently, I’m not sure if I’m going to stick with it,” said John Hammond, a freshman. “I think I might change it to something involving business. I did research on things I might be interested in, and then, I checked out the job market for those particular things. I’m not completely sure if I want to stay at civil engineering because the rest of my life is a long time, and I don’t know if I’mpassionate enough to commit to a lifetime in that profession.”

First Year Advising and Career Development Services offer numerous resources in an effort to assist students of all ages in choosing a suitable major. In addition, the Majors Fair will take place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, in the Cohen Center Ballroom.

Also available as a resource to help you decide your major and career path is a free online assessment FGCU offers at MyPlan.com — by using the code “BTCMKCA8” — which presents the user with tests to help decide the best paths suited to individual preferences and interests.

Aptitude tests and assessments are ideal for some, but for others, it is a random moment in everyday life that could spark inspiration.

“I finally had the realization that I wanted to be a nurse for sure when my sister was in the hospital because her appendix flamed up, and she was in the ER for eight hours,” Maselter said. “A lot of people hate hospitals, and for some reason, I just love going to them. And, I get this weird giddy feeling when I am there. Finally, as we were leaving the hospital to takemy sister home, I just had an epiphany, ‘This is what I want to do with my life, and this is where I’m supposed to be.’ Once I had that discovery, I couldn’t believe that I had never realized it sooner, because it is completely 100 percent me.”

Melodie Eichbauer, PhD, the assistant director of the Honors program and assistant professor of medieval history, advises students, freshmen in particular, to stay calm, while everyone asks you what your major is.

“It’s a bit unrealistic to think you might know,” Eichbauer said. “You just graduated from high school for Pete’s sake. This is why general education courses are so great. Not only do they help you develop into a well-rounded person — someone knowledgeable in different subjects impacting the world yesterday, today and into the future — but they also help you find what subjects you have a passion for. Do not look at them as ‘courses I have to take,’ but look at them as an opportunity to learn about this field.”

In addition, Eichbauer does not necessarily believe that your major is something to stress about because there is a good chance that it will not actually determine your career.

“There is an overarching belief that X major equals X job,” she said. “For instance, if you are a history major, you will teach history. This cannot be farther from the truth. True, a number of history majors do teach history, myself being an example, but a number of history majors also go to law school or to business school. The content that you learn in your major is a vehicle to teach you skills, for example: how to do research, how to write well, how to analyze material, how to present that material orally in a coherent way, how to work well with others. These are skills that employers want.”

Ricky Cassell, a sophomore and residential assistant in South Village, said, “Just start off with the basic questions such as, ‘What are your interests?,’ ‘What are your hobbies?,’ ‘What do you like to do with your free time?’ and see if it matches up with any of the available majors. Figure out which majors are geared to what type of profession; research is key.”

Cassell also advises freshmen not to stress about it.

“You still have at least four years to go, so if you don’t know what you want to do the first year, then it’s really not a big deal,” Cassell said. “And, you have plenty of time. I would be conscious about it now, but the first two years are mainly about general education. Overall, I’d have to say that you should just enjoy your college experience and be open to new things.”

As an RA, Cassell spends a lot of his time with freshmen and has a zeal for helping them transition to the next part of their lives. He can truly attest to the struggles they can face interacting with them on a dayto- day basis.

“If there is something you have never tried before, then go ahead and step out of your comfort zone because you never know what you’ll enjoy,” Cassell said.

Maselter has a similar standpoint.

“I think that if you’re struggling to find your passion, definitely try really random classes,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to branch out. Take a random history or art class because you never know what you might discover about yourself.”

The solution to the struggle of picking a major comes down to finding what you love and sticking with it no matter what.

“You don’t want to follow a career path solely for the money,” said Sean Zhu, a junior biology major. “Do something that interests you. If you are interested in math or science, choose a major related to that area. Chances are, if you hate those classes, then you’d hate a career in that field. There is something for everyone no matter what your interests are, so you just have to go out and find it.”

Luke Autera, a freshman who is leaning toward a career in management, speaks from a personal standpoint.

“I think that the biggest struggle involved with choosing a major is the amount of options there are,” Autera said. “Everyone stresses about choosing the right one because there are so many options to choose from, and the cost of classes is so high that you don’t want to waste your time and money just to change. Overall, I recommend taking your time and doing research before you commit to a major; discover a field where you are willing to wake up every single day with a smile because you are doing something you love.”

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