I feel like I know the author, since my hometown is 20 minutes from her Alma Mater. ETSU serves many first generation students. Each commencement, the president asks to stand all the first members of their families to graduate from college. It's always a lot. From The Atlantic.
Compared to their peers whose parents went to college, most first-generation students need more time to declare a major and are more likely to switch majors. As a first-year student, I pledged myself to the business school at Monmouth College in Illinois. It made sense. I’d grown up in a small family pest-control business. We lived in the country and grew corn, raised chickens, and sold firewood by the side of the road. I knew how to do whatever the job was and to make customers happy. But then I took an accounting class and ran from the major. I switched to government. An internship at a prosecutor’s office saved me from law school. The reading load in my classes was entirely manageable, but a summer spent at the Missouri State Archives showed me that I didn’t want to use my history degree to trace genealogies.
"When first-year students tell me they’re undecided in their field of study, I tell them it’s courageous not to know."
When first-year students tell me they’re undecided in their field of study, I tell them it’s courageous not to know. They rub elbows with students who have clear career trajectories, who brag about their networks that will ensure employment after graduation. Instead, I tell them to try things on, to intern, to volunteer, to job shadow. The first time I designed a lesson plan and stood in front of a class, teaching thrilled me, but I needed to try on plenty of majors that didn’t fit to find one that did.