As a University student, I am often asked what I’m studying. You might think it’s a simple question to answer, but I feel otherwise. I am a classical archeology major, I love what I’m studying and I have no problem telling people about it. But here’s the scary part. Having an unconventional major prompts more people to follow the first question with another — what is my plan for the future?
I come from a family in which almost everyone I’m related to (and that’s more than 200 people I personally know) is an entrepreneur, a doctor or an engineer — making my choice of major highly unconventional. Not following the tradition is like asking for disapproval. And as far as the question of the future is concerned, my answer is that I simply don’t know. There’s so much one can do in life, which makes it hard for me to make up my mind and choose just one career path. If I decide to become an archeologist, I’ll be in graduate school two years from now and will almost definitely be getting a Ph.D. sometime down the line. But is that really all I want to be?
Before declaring a classical archeology major, I spoke to an adviser at the University and told him that I had always dreamed of becoming an archeologist. What I didn’t tell him is that as a kid I had also dreamed of becoming a photographer, a journalist, a doctor, a historian, a psychiatrist and a lawyer. Now surely these were childish musings, as everyone around me thought, but as I grew older I became more and more fascinated by all there was I could do. I’m still not sure what I want to do after graduation, and that’s starting to get a bit scary now that I’ve entered my junior year.
Whether I’m really going to end up becoming an archeologist — I don’t know. But here’s what I do know. If I hadn’t explored different opportunities at the University, I probably wouldn’t have renewed or even discovered my passion for a lot of things. At the University, I can actually be many of the things I dreamed of becoming. Only here can I be defined by much more than what I’m studying. I can be a dancer in a group, a photographer for a newspaper, a member of Greek life, part of a charitable organization and even an athlete — though all that at the same time might be a little overwhelming if I want to maintain my grades. Four years, however, is enough time for students to explore at least some of what the University has to offer. And everyone should.
Today, in a world where more and more of youth are looking to enter unconventional careers, like teaching yoga, there are no limitations to what a person can do for a living. A college degree, some argue, does not hold much value anymore in this volatile economy. But there is nothing that can discredit or replace the overall University experience, which is priceless. The University admitted only about 50 percent of its applicants last year, a trend that it seems to have followed over the years. Students should take advantage of the more than 1,200 student organizations, 300 majors and about 3,000 courses that are offered. Explore all you want; and take at least these four years to be not what you should be, but whatever it is you want to be.
Aida Ali is a senior editorial page editor. She is an LSA junior.