We all change our minds, right? It’s a natural outcome of engaging with the world around us. I used to love mayo and hate spicy mustard. Now, it’s the total reverse. And in college, I changed my major at least 4 times. Don’t get me started on how many ideas — or really they should be called uncertainties — I had about majors and careers during my college search. In hindsight, I know that’s ok; it was natural.
I now know there’s good reason so many people repeat the saying “the only constant is change.” That said, all those changes in my plans years ago gave me truckloads of strife. And changes can still be tough, but now, I plan with an understanding that I cannot predict exactly where changes lurk.
Solving the Puzzle
How do we manage that understanding when we also know it’s natural for some — though I’ve only know a few people like this — to recognize their singular professional dream at a very young age. You may know someone like this. For me, there was my 5th grade classmate who declared she would be a teacher and my middle school sidekick who knew he belonged in investment banking. Maybe you feel called to medicine or the ministry or something else.
Even if you’re locked into a professional idea, your college search, academic planning and career thoughts should evolve. They should grow and develop as you learn more about your talents and your academic preferences. They should evolve as you study new subjects, meet new people, travel to new places and get older. They should evolve as the world — politically, technologically and environmentally — changes around you.
Making the Best Choice
So how do you plan for that change while also honoring what you want and expect now? There are two key points for you to keep in mind, in my opinion. The first is conceptual – pursue your interests with an open mind. The second is practical – consider a wide range of colleges and apply to ones where you’ll be happy if your academic plans change.
Said another way, don’t let your college plan or — more importantly — yourself be a “one trick pony.”
Fitz has dedicated the entirety of his 25 year career to encouraging higher education opportunities. He worked in the Vanderbilt, Duke Law and St. Lawrence admissions offices prior to serving as an enrollment management consultant for dozens of colleges around the country. He partnered with his former Vanderbilt colleague, Nicole Cook, to form Find The Right College and support their mission to make trustworthy college counseling more accessible.