I have changed course many times in the last 5 or 6 years since beginning college. I started college at Paradise Valley Community College to run track and study business. I knew it was common for people to switch majors throughout college, but I did not realize how difficult it could be to decide on one. Throughout my two years at PVCC, I fluctuated between business, exercise science, mathematics, and eventually landed on teaching English. I was able to decide on teaching English because I reframed how I was approaching my major. I was struggling to pick a major because I did not know what I wanted to do with a degree once I got it. I decided that I might be better off picking a job and then going back and finding an appropriate major that would set me up for success in that career field.
I knew that I wanted to see the world and I knew that if money wasn’t a factor that I would be a teacher. So, I boiled it down to wanting to teach, wanting to make money, and wanting to travel. After doing some research I found that teaching English abroad would be the perfect way to achieve all three. I could make a decent wage, live abroad, and teach! My plan, while abroad, was to also study the education systems I taught in so that I could eventually come back and figure out how to help our education system here. What I didn’t realize at the time I made this plan, was that my motivations were backwards.
When I transferred to Arizona State University to begin working on my degree in secondary education and began interning in schools, I realized just how poor our education here is. At first, this reinforced my desire to go abroad. I was just going to steer clear of the craziness that is going on here and head out. But, in my last semester of the program during my student teaching, I became interested in graduate school. With graduate school, I would still be sticking around for a while longer, postpone my teaching a little bit, and setting myself up for bigger possibilities for a career in education. Still with the teaching English abroad plan in mind however, I applied for a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MTESOL).
I realized upon starting the semester in the MTESOL program, that MTESOL is a much more research-based degree based on the theory behind second language acquisition and not necessarily a teaching degree. This realization did two things for me: one, I decided that second language acquisition, while interesting, was not really a career path that I wanted to dedicate myself to, and two, I realized I have an interest in research. So, now I have switched majors at the Associate level, the Bachelor level, and now the Masters level. I have decided to switch out of the MTESOL program and am now in the application process for getting into a program called Learning Sciences.
Learning Sciences is a little more focused on educational research and considers the systems behind learning in a variety of contexts. I think it is a cool degree because it goes beyond just education in the classroom and studies what learning looks like in other environments and systems as well. I excited for yet another change of pace and can’t wait to see what I can accomplish in a program that I feel is better aligned with my motivations. I have come to realize that I do not need to wait to try help our education system in the future when I can get started on it now.
Ultimately, the point of this post is not to go on and on about the different kinds of graduate degrees that ASU offers, the point I really want to illustrate is that it is completely fine to decide that you don’t like something and switch gears. You can do all this planning and have it all laid out and the suddenly something new enters your world and changes your perspective on things. Or, you might get started and have an epiphany a few weeks into your new graduate program that perhaps you did not fully understand your own motivations. Whatever happens, it is important to be adaptable. Destinations change so it is important to enjoy the journey. I can view my change in programs as an expensive mistake, or I can view it as a valuable lesson. The choice is mine, and mine alone. I know I can adapt and roll with the punches and I am good at finding the positive outlook in any situation. Having a positive mindset is the key to being adaptable. I believe that if you can develop a positive mindset, you can handle anything. If you are stressed out or unsure about what you are doing or where you are going, you have the power to change all of that. Even if you don’t know what road you are on, know that it is the road for you.
3 Quotes to Ponder:
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose on thought over another”
“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”
Comment below how many times you have switched majors/careers or one of your strategies to stay positive!