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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Kim

High school seniors: it’s okay not to know what you want to do.

Updated: May 11, 2022

‘Tis the season for Common Application. High school seniors everywhere are frantically applying to colleges and are all faced with one grappling question: “What do you want to do with your life?”

Growing up, I was so sure I wanted to become a medical doctor, just like all of my uncles. I would go through nearly a decade of higher education and study psychiatry. I would get over my squeamishness. I entered senior year fully expecting to force myself into this track until I started applying for colleges. The thought of having to do dissections, working with needles, being around blood…it all became too much.

Seeing my dad was an economist and loving his profession (and hearing that I am a spitting image of him), I decided to give business a try. I didn’t want to exactly follow his footsteps, but I still wanted to remain in relatively familiar territory. I then reevaluated what colleges I wanted to attend. A few months later, I miraculously got the Big Fat Letter and counted down the days until move-in.

One aspect of being at Tepper that is unique is that it requires students to at least minor in something outside of the Tepper school. Perfect! I thought to myself. I would be able to pursue psychology and find a way to weave that into business. Now that I have an academic goal, I would be able to have a straightforward path leading to my diploma.

After hitting the halfway point in the semester, I scheduled an appointment with my advisor to proudly announce my wish to concentrate in marketing and also major in psychology. Marketing was going well, and what better concentration to incorporate my love for psychology?

Hooray! At long last, I figured out what I want to do. Or so I thought until I walked into my advisor’s room and excitedly told her I wanted to double major in psychology. It then hit me what I would go through to get my degree: far more statistics courses than I could have ever asked for. Luckily, I don’t struggle in stats, but I had anticipated a far less quantitative approach. Instead of studying studies (which I found far more interesting), I would be studying the methodology of obtaining the information. My heart sank, but I still wanted to get my degree from Tepper, so I knew I had to pick something.

I decided to take a leap. Although I love writing political commentary for The Tartan, I was hesitant to commit to political science or professional writing. I didn’t see these degrees nearly as versatile as business administration, so I had kept considering writing as a hobby, but nothing I would take to the next level. My advisor then pulled up the course requirements for professional writing, and I felt a connection to them that I had not with the required courses for psychology. My heart further expanded when I saw that studying politics and public policy could open the doors to studying and working in D.C. for a semester.

Now, I’m pretty sure I’ll double minor in professional writing and politics and public policy. As for my concentration, I’m still leaning towards marketing, but it’s all in the air. Really, everything pertaining to my college experience is. I still need Google Maps to navigate my way off-campus; how am I supposed to independently navigate my life with 100 percent accuracy? Perhaps I’ll change my mind on my minors. Perhaps I’ll return from D.C. with a fierce loathing of political science. The thought of wandering aimlessly used to scare me, but I have faith that something will give so long as I work for it.

To those who don’t know what to do with their lives: it’s okay.


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