Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why I'm Glad I Go to a "Smaller" University

As school is ending for some and course selection for the fall is in full swing, I thought it was an appropriate time to write this post about my first year of university.

When I started university I knew what I wanted. I wanted to major in English and potentially minor in History.  I had spent a year working after I had finished high school which gave me plenty of time to solidify this plan. When course selection came around and I got my course selection package in the mail, it was time to put my life plan into action. I dreamed of taking all English courses with a smattering of History thrown in. It was going to be great (I was blissfully ignoring the reality of the massive amounts of reading that would have required). 

However, that was not to be. My university only offered five or six first year English courses, a few of which I had zero interest in taking (I presume this is because my university is on the smaller side, but maybe this is normal? Let me know in the comments). I ended up only taking four English courses in my first year. Although this would fulfill my major requirements, I was a bit disappointed. 

After filling in my four English courses and a few History courses, I was left with time slots that I had to fill. I choose two Medieval Studies courses because they seemed kind of like History and mildly appealing. My final selection was a Sociology course that I took merely because it fit nicely into my schedule. 

When I started the school year, I was a bit disappointed. I had spent the previous year(s) saving all my money so I could attend university, and I wasn't 100% excited about the courses I would be taking. As the year progressed, I began to get over that initial disappointment and enjoy myself and my wide variety of courses. I realized that there was so much more that I could get out of university than just my English degree. At the end of my exploratory first year, when it came time for me to officially declare my major, I ended up declaring a double major in English and Medieval Studies, with a minor in History. This change of plans was a bit of a shock to myself, but a welcome one.

I'm glad that attending a "smaller" university forced me to take courses that were outside of my comfort zone, and inadvertently gave me a better version of what I thought I wanted. I didn't do a complete 360 and hop into Science or anything crazy like that. I just refined my plan by expanding it. Since I had to take Medieval Studies courses, I was introduced to something completely new and lovely. Not only were my academic horizons widened, but I found something that I truly enjoyed. The same goes for that Sociology course. It wasn't something that I wanted to commit my degree to, but the concepts I learned were applicable in different areas of my life and got me thinking about human issues in different ways. By going beyond my limited plans, I got more out of my first year of university than I had thought possible. 

Whenever I talk to perspective students, I can't help but encourage them to try a few courses that sound interesting, but are outside of their desired major. Don't let the plans that you make for yourself limit you from following what you truly want to do. I firmly believe that taking courses in something you love is never a waste of money, but of course I say this with a grain of practicality. For me, time and money aren't limitless things, so university is meant to equip me for a career. Taking this revised degree isn't detracting from that end goal of finding a job, but it is making it so much more enjoyable.

What has your experience been with choosing courses? Or on a more general scale, what has your experience been with changing your plan? Let me know what you think the comments!

8 comments:

  1. I'm moving off to college in the fall of 2016... (Senior year, woo-hoo!!!) But up until the summer of last year, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do. It was a difficult time for me. (Cue the dramatic tears, prayer, and soul-searching!)
    But one day, while my dear mother was doing another one of her "Which Degree Should Your Child Major In?" searches, she happened upon an English Degree... All of the classes fit me perfectly!! Like, I was interested in ALL of them!! XD

    I finally realized that that was the answer I had been missing. (I grew up wanting to be a writer, but people had told me that it "wasn't a real job,' & 'you can't make any money doing that', so I just let it drift.) Apparently God gave me that desire for a reason, because it has ALWAYS been there.

    And now, Hannah Wilson: The Writer has re-emerged, ignoring people's questions about how I'm going to make it work & giving it my best!! :) I'm glad you wrote this post to remind me that I won't ALWAYS enjoy my classes, but I know I'll be happy with the end result!! <3

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    1. I'm so glad that you figured out what degree you want to pursue! Our society puts such emphasis on finding the best education to give you the best job, but I think sometimes you just have to do what you know is right.

      Good luck with your writing! I admire your new found confidence!

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  2. This is wonderful advice. When I was in high school I took an astronomy course merely because I was trying to avoid physics and the math involved (little did I know that astronomy has just as much math). I ended up falling in love with astronomy and astrophysics. I considered minoring it in college and ended up studying math and physics during my summer free time because I wanted to understand astrophysics more. Always stay open to broadening your education and stepping out of your comfort zone!

    Also, I had no idea that you took a year off before college. That is so cool! I did the same thing. I am just finishing up a year of working (and saving) and will be starting college this September. I am currently down as a History major, but I am hoping to pick up a second major in English as well.

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    1. That's such a cool interest that you have! I know nothing but it, but it sounds like you love it!

      Taking a year off was one of the best decisions I ever made. Although I didn't do any crazy traveling or anything, I worked my butt off and now I can go through these next few years and be financially secure.

      Congrats on starting college! History and English are the BEST!

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  3. This sounds a lot like my own experiences. I went to a Bible College for a year after finishing High School. Then I worked retail for two years while taking online college classes. Now I have almost three years worth of online college credits under my belt and I'm trying to go to an actual campus in the Fall of this year. In all that time I've learned to have a Joy for learning no matter what class it is. Even if the subject (or the retail work) isn't something that was in my original plan I can still come away from the experience a better person if I choose to learn from it.

    I wanted to be an English Major at first, but then I decided on Communications. One reason was practical. A Communication major could get me a better job if I ever needed one. A lot of communication classes are not really in my interest zone of engligh, history, and creative writing. But it turns out communications can be fun! And I can still use my interests in writing and history through it. I'll be adding Creative Writing or English on as a Minor. Now I can't wait to go to a college campus at last!

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    1. What a great conclusion to come to. I often need the reminder to value my current experiences and realize that I can learn wherever I'm placed.

      Com is a great subject to major in. I considered it when I was applying. I'd still be interesting in throwing a few communication courses into my degree. I hope it works out for you and that you enjoy your experiences on campus!

      Thanks for visiting SOI!

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  4. I'm not even in college yet, but your ambitions sound similar to mine. If anyone has looked through my blog, you'd know that I may potentially major in English. What wonderful advice (Although I don't want to think about school right now!).
    ~ Sanjana
    peridotcove.blogspot.com

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    1. It summer; who wants to think of school:P

      I hope when your time comes, all those decisions will come easily to you.

      Thanks for commenting!

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