Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces Central Command

Commonly, college is perceived as a place for young students to pursue their passions, an almost mystical land of opportunities where dreams become a reality. Many students, including myself, come into UCR with high hopes of becoming the next Steve Jobs or Meredith Grey (yes, that is the only doctor I know of, though she is fictional). However, reality soon hits, and we face roadblocks that lead to a completely different pathway we weren’t expecting or prepared for.

Oftentimes students come into UCR as a CNAS major, but then move to CHASS due to the realization that they aren’t suited for CNAS. Maybe you want to stay in CNAS or BCOE to satisfy your parents, that is completely understandable. There is a common misconception amongst college students that being in a certain major or career path will fully satisfy your parents’ expectations. However as a college student, you are responsible for making your own decisions stripped of outside influence and bias, including your parents. You may feel tied to your parents’ expectations because they are directly supporting you, but it is of utmost importance to choose a major or career path that you can confidently stand by. Do not make a decision that will temporarily satisfy your parents if it is going to hurt you in the long term.

Whether you have found your passion in another major or even failed out of CNAS, the first step is to tell your parents. Telling your parents shows that you are taking ownership of your own actions and that you respect them enough to inform them of your life decisions. When you do have the conversation with your parents, come prepared with a plan. This is mutually beneficial to you and your parents, because your parents will find comfort in knowing that you have thought through the process and are not going in blindly. It will also give you more direction. Your parents’ initial reaction may be anger or disappointment, but remember that they may need time to process. Give them a few days to digest what you’ve told them.

If you have no idea what you want to do, you still need to come up with a plan. The reality is you need to move with the wind, before the wind blows you away. If you have no idea what new major to choose, then it’s the time to expose yourself to new options by taking a few breadth courses. If you want to take a gap year, take it. There is no shame in taking a year off to decide what you want to do. Everyone goes at life at their own pace, and each person’s journey to their career is individualized.

If taking a gap year is out of the question due to financial constraints, utilize school resources such as the Career Center. These advisors are trained to deal with students in predicaments such as your own. The Career Center also provides you with two aptitude tests to suggest viable career options that align with your strengths and interests. Another possible avenue is to volunteer within your local community or join clubs that spark your eye. This will allow you to be find people who have common interests, which will help you see the different career paths your peers are taking.

There may have been a wide array of reasons why you were unable to stay as a CNAS major, but now you are only one step closer to finding a new major that is better suited for you. Everyone has their shortcomings, but it’s important we not harp on our failures but rather use them as a catalyst to discover what we enjoy.