All My Plans Fell Apart, and That’s a Good Thing

Creative commons photo by Flickr user Chapendra
To plan or not to plan? (Creative commons photo by Flickr user Chapendra)

One thing I have learned over the past school year is the importance of being flexible. Before I even landed in the U.S., I knew what I would be majoring in, what classes exactly I would take each of my five semesters at Mount Holyoke, and what extra-curriculars I would pursue. However, now, one year later, I am moving in a totally different direction.

Before coming to Mount Holyoke, I thought I would major in international relations. I was very confident in my choice since that was what I had been dreaming about for the last few years.

When I actually took classes in the IR department though, I realized that this field is too broad and vague for my mind, which was asking for something more concrete, provable, and science-based. So I chose to major in economics with a minor in public policy.

But I didn’t realize that getting into a graduate program in economics is very much dependent upon my preparation in math. When my professors made me aware of this, I switched to a double major in economics and math. I am not only enjoying my classes but I also feel that I am moving in the right direction.

I was able to find the right path for myself only because I made an effort not to stick to the detailed plans I had made earlier, however tempting it was to do the opposite.

Creative Commons photo by Esther Dyson

I believe in strategic planning. It gives purpose to all the work I do, helps me feel that I’m in control of my life, and allows me to track progress toward my goals. So my long-term plans for the next five years become the foundation of my daily routine.  However, my Mount Holyoke experience proved that long-term planning can also be disorienting because the reality – the academic field, the labor market, and the underlying public opinion – is always changing.

We do not always have at our disposal all the information necessary to make well-informed career decisions. But even if we, college students, do have the information and understand the reality, we may still want to think twice before committing ourselves to a particular career, for our own motives and desires are changing as we explore new subjects and expand our interests in college.

So I have learned that while long-term planning gives me an advantage, it’s important to constantly challenge my plans and be open to new ideas that my growing knowledge and experience may bring into my life.