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College is about exploring your interests, so don't be afraid to change your major

Most students don’t know exactly what they want to study or which career path to take, but there are plenty of resources to help you figure it out. – Photo by Sakina Pervez

The college experience is not meant to be only one thing. Instead, it is a mix of the spontaneous and exciting, yet the practical and responsible all at once. As every first-year embarks on the journey to figure out what college will mean to them, one experience ties you together — choosing a major (before you change it over and over again).

The beauty of Rutgers lies in the seemingly endless options with which you can choose to begin your academic career. While this can be advantageous to students who have a vague idea of the direction they want to take, students who have a less clearly defined path can find the plethora of choices overwhelming.

Luckily, resources like the involvement fair give first-year students a way to explore their interests without the commitment of classwork. Student organizations gather on the College Avenue campus once a semester to talk to curious students about different extracurriculars. For first-years looking to try a little bit of everything, student organizations can clue you into fields you could pursue.

Within these organizations, first-year students will have the chance to meet other students and faculty in various departments and have conversations with them outside of traditional classroom settings. These conversations can be as academic or as casual as you would like, as long as they ultimately give you a better understanding of what day-to-day life is like for those working in or pursuing what could potentially be your path, too.

Once your options are narrowed down, the intimidating process of making your choices concrete can be eased by resources like academic advising.

Academic advisors can help you navigate WebReg and Degree Navigator, and more importantly, they can guide you through the obstacles standing between you and your goals. Whether it is missing requirements or a school-to-school transfer, academic advisors make what would otherwise be a confusing hurdle feel manageable.

Through academic advising, students can plan how many and which electives they want to take. While the requirements will vary, every school gives students the chance to take electives. Some first-years chose to take additional classes related to their major, and others take advantage of the opportunity to explore their options. Regardless, a line of communication with advisors is crucial in making sure that you are happy with your trajectory.

But ultimately, no matter how often people insist that your whole future rides on your present, your college experience will be what you make of it. Take your time, try something new, commit to it or change your mind — rinse and repeat if necessary. It will be okay.

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