Welcome to your quaint New England college campus, Class of 2015. Look to your left. Now look to your right. Chances are that two of you have no friggin' idea what you want to do with your lives, and the one of you who does will change his or her mind by age 25.
Choosing a major remains one of the most anxiety-ridden moments of the college experience, second only to when you accept your diploma and cross the threshold into real life. An estimated 50 percent of college students switch majors at least once, with some studies estimating that percentage to be as high as 80. Then there's "that guy" who switches his major five or six times, beginning school in marine biology and leaving with a degree in modern dance.
But here's the thing: in the grand scheme of life, majors are kind of minor. Most college grads go on to work in other fields, sometimes even emerging on top. For every philosophy grad who ends up in retail, there's an economics major who makes it as a movie star. Ok, maybe not an exact 50/50 ratio, but you get the idea. You're not necessarily setting yourself up for failure if you end up on a different career path than you imagined when you were a child — which is exactly what happened to me.
From the time I was six years old, growing up in New Hampshire, I read newspapers — well, USA Today, anyway — and knew I wanted to be a journalist. This was also the year I was first published. (What can I say? I was a bit precocious.) I bounded into J-school with youthful idealism, got my degree, and by age 25, I had the job I wanted: a fun gig as events editor at an alt-weekly newspaper.
However, in real life things change very quickly. A bad luck streak in my personal life caused one slow-burning but epic breakdown, and ultimately, I began to second-guess the career I had been so sure about for nearly two decades. I left the newsroom and fled across the country to a place where even more dreams go to die: Hollywood!
Like my parents, you're probably thinking, "Well there goes four years of college tuition, right down the tubes!" But trust me, the skills you learn in college are invaluable. Co-workers will be dazzled by your ability to shotgun a beer in 20 seconds, and prospective life partners will be really impressed by your ability to fashion a toga out of a bed sheet.
In all seriousness, it's the academic skills from college that will have a lasting effect. Knowing how to write and speak well will help you land any type of job. (And if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation, this will also help you get out of trouble!) Focus on your studies, but don't underestimate the power of socialization either.
Now content, I work full-time at a staffing and recruiting agency and take improv and comedy writing classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade and iO West; I call it my grad school. Had I not gone to college, the thought of being on stage would cause me to crumble into fetal position, and I wouldn't be so comfortable conducting phone interviews or juggling very specific staffing requests for clients who needed a graphic designer two hours ago.