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What is recommended for someone who has interest in several fields and has trouble zoning in on one to focus on in college?

Hi, I am a sophomore in high school and have increasingly been asked what I want to study in college. I struggle with this question because I am fascinated by journalism, psychology, film/cinema, and digital design. How might I be able to go about choosing one specific field?

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Grant’s Answer

If your resource is sufficient (time, finance status, mental capacity...), it's totally fine (and always a way) to keep exploring/enjoying/learning multiple subjects. At the same time, you could think about 3 categories below and try to map subjects to them :

(1) I'm interested in ___
(2) I'm good at ___
(3) I want to work on ___ as my career

You probably find sometimes these 3 not necessarily overlap (one person could be interested in one thing but not very good at it). My 2 cents, determination of college major should also consider the flexibility to allow you keep forming your answers to (1)(2)(3).

And if you want to gain deeper insight or experience about your interest/subject, especially answer to (3): try to find small projects or internship or ask some senior friends / relatives to see what's the real life of people who make a living from that area. Hope that helps.


Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice, Grant. Leire
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Jamie’s Answer

In the very simplest of statements... I agree with Dave's answer: "You've got plenty of time to figure this out! "

There are some people who know what they want to do from an early age... I'm talking like 10 years old or something.

And then there are some people who go through life with several different careers.

I think as human beings (especially parents with their kids) it makes them feel more comfortable once you are "categorized."

This will go through your entire life. You're in high school so if you go to a party with people you don't know they'll ask you things like, "how old are you?" "What school do you go to?" "Do you play any sports?"

Then you'll get old enough to drive and it will be, "What kind of car do you drive?" "Where do you think you'll go to college?" "Will you go to college?"

And then you'll get into college, "What's your major?" and on and on and on.

And then when you're old (like me) you'll go to a Christmas party (just went to one) and the questions will be, "What do you do for a living?" "Are you married?" etc. etc.

We, as humans, like to categorize others and ourselves. It makes us feel "safe" or "comfortable" because then we know (which is complete nonsense) where we stand in relation to other people.

And the base meaning of that is -- Are you worthy of my time? Am I more important than you? Can you do anything for me? Are you someone I want to talk to or should I move on? You have a much better (fill in the blank... job, car, house, wife, boat, whatever) than I do therefore I'm "less than" and I should do something about that if possible (or more than likely just feel bad about myself)

You're in high school. Enjoy that as much as you can. (I hated high school btw) and don't worry about what you're going to do. You'll figure it out when you figure it out and you'll probably find that once you figure it out you decide whatever that thing is... you don't want to do it anymore or you want to try something else... or it's the best thing you've ever done and you're going to do whatever that is until the day you die.

In the end all that matters is you live your life to the fullest and make the best choices you can make at those moments in time and never worry about making the "wrong" choices because most of the time there are no wrong choices... just choices that you learn from.

Me for example. I was a terrible student in high school... TERRIBLE.. I barely graduated and hated school. My first job out of HS was working on diesels (big rig trucks) as a mechanic's assistant. Then I worked at a fertilizer plant. Then I thought I should go in the military (I didn't wind up going) then I thought I should go back to school.

And then somehow miraculously in college (because I was paying for it) I made the Deans list about 5 times, and graduated a member of two honor societies with a degree in journalism.

But in college I started out as.... no major, humanities major, english lit major, theater major, and ended up as a journalism major.

After college I got married, worked for a newspaper for about two years and then realized even though I liked my job I wanted to try acting. Moved to Los Angeles and did that. Then after doing that for a while realized I liked making movies and writing scripts more than I liked acting. So I did that. Then "3D" was all the rage and I realized I really liked that too. So I did that. And then I didn't want to live in LA anymore so I went and worked for NASA doing the same things I did on television shows and movies. And now... that I'm getting ready to finish off my career I'm working on video games blowing stuff up.

So as you can probably tell. I didn't know what I wanted to do either. I'm over 50 years old and maybe I still don't? But it's been a fun ride. And every "mistake" I've made wasn't a mistake it was an adventure that I learned from and I wouldn't trade ANY of it.

I think the only "mistake" you can make or choice that is "wrong" for you would be to not live YOUR life and go for what YOU want.

Most people live their life out making grand plans for what they're going to do "some day." My only hard advice to you would be to not do that.

Like Thoreau wrote "“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Live your life, have fun, enjoy it... it doesn't last long. And don't worry about making mistakes. You'll make them. It's how you view your "mistake" that will help you move forward with your next adventure!

I know I went off on a tangent of philosophy here but just read the first sentence and disregard the rest if it bores you :)

Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! This advice is extremely comforting, and reading your own personal experience, which I highly admire, has encouraged me to do just what you said: Live my life. I feel that too much pressure is put on teens in high school, and this really builds up a lot of pressure. This is truly what I needed to hear, so thank you :) Leire
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome! Jamie Clark
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Dave’s Answer

Hi Leire,

The first two years of college are going to be a combination of general education classes (stuff everyone has to take) an electives (your choices). For the electives, find things that you like - and don't worry about your major! You'll have plenty of time to figure that out.

Just do well in high school so you can hopefully get into a school that works for you - close to home? out of state? community college? (that worked for me and allowed me to save the money for two years at a great school).

You've got plenty of time to figure this out!

Thank you comment icon Thank you very much, this is very helpful! Leire
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Ellie’s Answer

If you really want to focus on one, you'll just have to see which sounds the most fun, which would you enjoy going into work for more. However you could also double major or minor and be able to take a multitude of those courses! If that doesn't interest you, you coukd also pick a major and explore your other interests outside College in your community.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Ellie! Leire
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Lindsey’s Answer

I see other people have encouraged that you have plenty of time, and I'd agree with that! I also would encourage you to be open to taking classes outside of your major -- if your class load and finances allow for that. When I started college, I was interested in journalism but wasn't ready to commit to that path 100% because I hadn't had experience in it. I ended up graduating with an English degree (writing concentration) and also took multiple journalism courses as electives. Looking back, I couldn't be happier at how the variety of writing classes helped prepare me for my current job in sports journalism. Don't be afraid to try things out and then change your mind if you need!
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! Leire
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Ari’s Answer

One option is that it is possible to double major, although if you go this route keep in mind that you will most likely be very busy while in college. Even if you decide not to double major, one great thing about college is that you will have many opportunities to take classes in different fields. As you take classes in different fields, you may discover that you are drawn to one more than the others.

I understand the desire to choose one specific field as I thought I wanted to become a research biologist when I entered college. As I took classes in different fields, however, I discovered a passion for philosophy and now I work in education. So it's definitely okay if your interests change.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Leire
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