If there is a perfect word to describe who I was in my first quarter at Ohio State, it’s probably “lost.”

Last fall, I came to OSU with basically no idea what I wanted out of college, let alone what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I was undecided, or as OSU calls it, I was in “exploration.” That, to me, just makes it sound like I was trying to be the next Christopher Columbus.

At first, being undecided terrified me. I was surrounded by ambitious, motivated people who seemed to have it all figured out: major, career path, the whole nine yards. Then there was me. At the time, I assumed I was forever doomed to answer “I don’t know” when people asked me what I wanted to do with my life.

But it turned out that being undecided was one of the best decisions, or non-decisions, of my life.
I was blessed with a wonderful adviser, Stephanie Elliott, who helped me find myself and opened up opportunities I could not even imagine at the time. If you have never taken the time to visit your adviser, you are really missing out. Especially for an exploratory student, advising is crucial.

After a few sit-down meetings with Stephanie, we ironed out a few possibilities of majors I was interested in, including journalism. She suggested taking an introductory journalism class to see how I liked it. One class and I was hooked. Actually, I was a little more than “hooked,” I felt like things were finally falling into place perfectly.

Without having an adviser who genuinely cared about helping me find a major, I know I would not be where I am today. Maybe I would have settled on a major, maybe it would still have been journalism, but talking to my adviser helped me figure myself out so much faster than I could have if I had gone at it alone. Jumping right into journalism as a first-year has been one of the most rewarding parts of my college career.

For anyone skeptical about the importance of advising, I cannot stress enough how important it is to give advising a chance. Your adviser knows the university and the course catalog of available classes much better than you, and you never know what you can learn at a simple 10-minute meeting. And if your assigned adviser is not a perfect match for you, find one who is. Never be afraid to admit you are unsatisfied with the help you are receiving because, believe it or not, there are advisers out there who really do want to help you.

On another note, don’t be afraid to admit if you’re feeling a little lost in college. More people than you might think are overwhelmed, stressed and maybe even terrified at the idea of deciding what to do with the rest of their lives. Once you accept that you don’t have everything figured out, you open up the opportunity to do something about it.

College is about educating yourself and preparing for the real world, but it’s also about finding your passion. So do not settle for mediocrity. Actually, do not settle at all, ever. You might find that being passionate about something makes school and work much easier than you could have ever imagined.