Graduate student Samantha Grayson checks her list of required textbooks at the Villanova Bookstore on Aug. 30, 2010. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Graduate student Samantha Grayson checks her list of required textbooks at the Villanova Bookstore on Aug. 30, 2010. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

If you had asked what “college” meant to me three years ago when I was a naïve high school senior, I would have responded with words such as “new experiences,” “fun” and “friends.”

Fast forward three years into my college career and ask me the same question and I will respond with words such as “stress,” “uncertainty” and “fear.”

As my time as an undergraduate student quickly ticks away with every fulfilled GEC and passed requirement, I can’t help but worry if my tens of thousands of tuition dollars and countless restless nights have been rightly spent.

You see, I started at Ohio State as a pre-journalism major because I knew I wanted a career based on communication, creation and making a difference. I have always loved filming and editing video as well as liking to think I’m the expert on everything. (Kidding!)

After learning that beginning journalists make little to no money and that I would have to write for The Lantern as a major requirement, my wide freshman eyes were no longer so optimistic. I switched my major to strategic communication.

What a mistake.

After taking a few core courses for this major, I immediately realized I would never find satisfaction in creating product ads or being the spokesperson for anyone or anything but the truth (no offense to any strat comm majors).

Within a semester, I switched back to journalism.

Between writing for The Lantern and my time as a special projects intern with the local ABC affiliate, I can finally breathe a little easier knowing I have found my calling.

This calling combines my skills, my interests and my desires while giving me a sense of purpose and a sense of satisfaction.

But what about those students who are still in the dark, trying to find theirs?

Sixty-two percent of freshman men and 61 percent of freshman women reported needing help choosing a major, according to a recent study by ACT, a nonprofit organization that aims to help people achieve education and workplace success.

The OSU registrar reports there are currently more than 2,600 students enrolled in University Exploration, a program designed to help students discover their majors through individualized attention and self-assessment.

Amy Treboni, director of University Exploration, said confidence is the missing component that keeps students from picking their majors.

“Students need the confidence that they can do something with their major, that they will like it, that they’ll be successful in it, that the people who are important to them will understand what it is and that it will connect to careers,” Treboni said. “For each student that confidence might look a little different.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I lacked this confidence after I switched back to journalism and spent seven hours writing my first article for The Lantern, which was never published.

I knew that if I did everything I could to learn how to be a better writer, I could eventually make it in the paper.

My confidence showed up when my next article was published on the front page after taking more in-depth course work and practicing my reporting.

Treboni said students should take general education requirement classes while undecided to get a feel for their interests and values.

This, too, speaks volumes to my experience after taking a calculus course my freshman year. I made up my mind that I would choose a major where I would never have to spend another minute in the Math Tower basement being tutored on concepts that I cared nothing about.

Finally, Treboni said students should take a variety of factors into consideration when choosing a major, including interests, values, family influence, income, job outlook and passion.

In closing, between discovering yourself through new experiences and deciding what you want to do with your life, it’s incredibly easy to forget what the purpose of higher education is and how it fits into the overall framework of your life.

For example: are we paying more than $10,000 per semester to go out Wednesday through Saturday resulting in a list of regrets and lost productivity?

Are we spending nearly half a decade of our lives just passing classes to earn a piece of paper like thousands of other twenty-somethings in hopes of getting a job?

In my opinion, we should be using this time, as young people with few commitments, to become the best versions of ourselves in preparation for what we hope to achieve following graduation. This begins with choosing the right major.

I mean really, it makes no sense to pay upward of $50,000 to attend a world-renowned institution like OSU, yet prioritize things you won’t be proud of 10, 20, 30 years from now.

We owe it to our benefactors and to our futures to make our priorities our education, beginning with our majors. After all, that’s why we’re here, right?