I’m a planner. I like to be organized. I make decisions quickly and I stick to them. Five-year plans, ten-year plans, twenty: I’ve got it all sorted out.
As I started my college career, my planning included my academic calendar. Finishing high school, I knew that I would major in Politics, finish the Common Core requirements in two years, spend the next two finishing up my major (maybe a minor or two), apply to law school, and be on my way.
Then I Got a Reality Check
In all my planning, there was one huge factor that I didn’t really take into account: NYU. I was only considering how I would use the resources of the University. I wasn’t thinking about how NYU might impact me or my decisions. I was picturing my life at college like a one-way street, rather than a two-way relationship.
Being undecided is a really common problem for college students. My problem was the exact opposite. I was too sure, too rigid. I unwavered in every decision. Any deviation from my Grand Plan felt like a crisis. If things didn’t happen exactly as I envisioned them, I had to battle back tremendous feelings of panic.
The Answer: My Adviser
The first time I met with my academic adviser, I sat down and probably talked for an uninterrupted ten minutes straight. I explained my plan for the rest of the year, the three years after that, and then what I would do next. He listened, he waited, and when I finally finished, he started asking questions. Have you thought about doing this? Have you considered that? But what if you do this program instead?
It was rattling. He questioned the Grand Plan. I was taken aback, but then I realized he was actually making some great points. I walked out of his office questioning, for the first time in my life, what I would do next.
So I Took Some Electives
I picked out some classes that looked interesting to me. I went to information sessions. I talked to professors. I consider other options, other points of view. It took me less than a year to find her, my second love: psychology. It happened in a Developmental Psychology class. I was attending lectures, minding my own business, when I realized I was fascinated with the subject material. I picked up some more psychology courses, and just like that, my plans changed.
Some things went exactly how I wanted. Like I planned in high school, I’m majoring in Politics, I joined the mock trial team, and I live on campus. But now, I’m also majoring in Psychology. I’m interning at an awesome nonprofit. I’m planning on graduating in three years.
So Change Your Mind
The point is, letting go of parts of my Grand Plan ended up leading me to some amazing opportunities. Don’t be afraid when things don’t go your way. Don’t freak out if your path starts to look different from how you pictured it. You’re free to change your mind, to make mistakes, to go a different way. It’s the best part of life at NYU!