Students often times feel tremendous pressure to locate or confirm their life’s calling in their first year of college. Generally, students do this through selecting a major that they believe aligns with their passions (or in some cases, a major that aligns with the desires of those who are paying the bills).
However, as we know, sometimes our passions shift and our interests change. For many, including myself, college has a profound influence over the things we choose to care about. For this reason, I ended up changing my major three times while I was a student. I even transferred to a school that I felt aligned more with my calling (I still finished in 4 years though—Praise God)! Honestly, I do not have any regrets about the 4 majors or the 2 schools that I attended because I discovered more passions along the way than when I started.
If I would have followed the single passion that I had at the time when I left home, I would be a missionary in Kenya. Although there is nothing wrong with that, along the journey I discovered that a significant reason I wanted to serve in Kenya was because I cared about people in poverty. Furthermore, I found that my heart is very tender towards those who have experienced tremendous pain like the people I had met in Kenya just one summer before leaving for school.
As a Freshmen I met many people in the city of Boston, where I went to school, that had similar struggles to those in Kenya. I did my best to learn from them and encourage them through my actions and words. I ended up leaving that school for a school in Chicago, where I discovered even more passions. With new experiences came new things to care about. Every single one of these passions has come together in the capacity I serve in today.
The journey was as important, if not more important, than the destination.
One key discovery I made throughout that unique journey is that callings are not fulfilled exclusively through majors or careers. I know this may run counter intuitive to our society’s version of success, but our purpose is way bigger than any major or career that we end up in.
Your student might be experiencing this same struggle of figure everything out so quickly. My recommendation is to take a deep breath and remind them about what matters most.
As a Christian, I believe my purpose is defined by the Great Commandment to honor and love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself (Luke 10:27). In my journey through 4 majors, 2 colleges, and 2 careers, I discovered that if we find our purpose, our career is merely one avenue (among many) to fulfill what we believe is most important. You do not have to be a Christian to believe in the importance of discovering your purpose.
I believe we should encourage our students to discover their purpose, which might take some time and exploration. Once that discovery is made, most of the time it can accomplished in a variety of ways and is not limited to one major or career. This relieves the pressure of thinking that the decisions we make today will completely spoil our purpose in the future. I highly encourage students and parents to give themselves some space to explore what this might mean for them.
This post was written by a staff member in our Department of Student Success