As students at Tulane, a university filled with thousands of well-qualified millennials with unique academic and career-related experiences, there is a constant underlying pressure to succeed. But what is this definition of success? Getting an A on an exam? Landing a competitive internship in New York City? Being the president of five clubs? Tulane’s competitive college environment often pressures us to choose certain majors, activities, or career paths solely for the purpose of this idealized version of “success.”
As a sophomore in the business school at Tulane, I have begun to realize just how much this mentality has taken over the lives of myself and my peers. When I first started Tulane, there was definitely a hint of pressure to pursue a major that leads to a successful career. Almost everyone I knew was originally in the business school or pre-med, but that number quickly dwindled as people realized their courses might be more challenging than expected. I think the biggest issue with some of the majors in these schools is that they set us on a certain path at such an early stage in our lives. Yes, these planned agendas can be extremely practical options. With the job applicant pool bigger than ever, having a major that automatically leads to a high paying career such as being a doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. can be very comforting.
But we are so young. We have so much of life ahead of us, with many twists and turns to come. It can be somewhat damaging to one’s potential to lock yourself in a career path too early, because it may stop you from pursuing experiences that speak more to your passions even if they don’t bring as much monetary value.
Now, I’m not saying that we should all drop out of school. Every person is different; people have various things that excite them. Many people truly do love working with numbers or participating in tricky chemistry classes. I just think it is crucial that throughout our academic experience here at Tulane, we make sure to listen to our hearts and not lose sight of what we’re passionate about. Find that passion by getting involved in organizations that you simply enjoy being a part of. As you participate in these kinds of activities while studying subjects you are interested in, you can slowly start to figure out your own path in life. That daunting question of “what do you want to do when you get out of college?” can be so frustrating to hear when all you want to say is, “I have absolutely no idea.” By trying out a variety of activities that inspire and excite you, combined with learning what professional skills you have, you can start to piece together the answer to that question.
This balance of practicality and passion is essential in our lives. It not only leads us to success but also, more importantly, leads us to find true happiness. Once we can find the sweet spot between these two conflicting concepts, we can start to really grow into the person we want to become. You never want to look back at life and think “what if?” What if I had pursued my passion? What if I had tried out this interesting class? What if I had joined this club? Always listen to your brain, but never forget to stay true to your heart. By testing this mentality, you can develop a diverse and well-rounded college experience that can hopefully lead you to a balanced career and life that excites you every single day.
COVER PHOTO: Justin Haber