Feeling majorly lost

Having a major is not equal to having it all figured out

More stories from Brian Sheridan

Sheridan walks around Nice, France with other students in his study abroad class.


Sheridan walks around Nice, France with other students in his study abroad class.

“What’s your major?”

It’s the ultimate question in college. You think, you stress, you weigh the options. You essentially  have to decide the course of the rest of your life.

Days, months, maybe years go by, but with drum rolls in the distance, you finally come to the grandiose conclusion: I have a major.

Terrific, but what are you going to do with it?

Then there’s that curveball. I spent years wondering what my major was going to be and now it’s coming to the point where I need to be a little more specific. Why can’t it just be enough to have a major?

I came to UW-Eau Claire with the intention of being a journalism major, and I am. However, according to the Eau Claire website, a third of Eau Claire students come here undeclared, and among those who do have a major, about 60 percent of them change it during their time here.

When I got here, the only journalism I knew was what I learned at my high school newspaper so I figured that’s what I’ll do with my life. Now, I’m in my third year and thinking about all the different subcategories of my major makes me feel so lost.

I started feeling this after a recent summer course I took in France to learn what it would be like to be an international journalist. After quickly learning I didn’t ever want to do that, I talked to a man who worked for the international New York Times.

After he expressed his woes of how awful it was to be an international journalist, he told me to give up on my dreams of working for a newspaper and that, the way journalism is evolving, I am currently working towards a degree for a job that doesn’t necessarily exist yet.

That was a fun day.

So I’m over halfway done with a major I really want, with only experience in an industry that’s almost dead, and hoping to finish college and get one of these fabled jobs that have yet to come into existence.

It all sounds pretty scary, and it is, but I’m doing my best now to fully prepare for when I finish college. I’ve started to explore other options available under my major, like broadcasting, social media and even some web design.

A major is only a vague outline to get you thinking; it’s not the end-all of decisions. They’re meant to help you explore options you may not have ever thought about in a certain field.

Every major has a plethora of career options available to it, and you never know what may or may not pique your interests. Sometimes it just requires being open to failure and being willing to dig a little deeper.