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Sunday, February 05, 2023
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The reality of your college major

I came into the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a freshman thinking I was a business major. Was I actually? Well, no. I was admitted into pre-business, but that felt as real to me as being a coveted direct admit business major.

People would always ask me, “Why do you want to study business?” and, to be perfectly honest, I had no idea. The only plausible answer I could formulate was that I wanted to be a CEO — leading a company and making a difference; studying business seemed like the only path to achieving such dreams. 

I began to define myself as a pre-business student, embedding the major into part of my personality. I was envious of every peer I met who was a direct admit to the business school and I relentlessly picked their brains in order to understand how they got in — and how I could too. 

The application consisted of an essay, resume and GPA submission. The essay was meant to tell the admissions team why you want to study business, what you will contribute to the Wisconsin School of Business and what you will gain from studying business. As I saw it, this essay was my golden ticket into business school. I had wanted to study business my whole life, and all of my prior activities and involvement proved this. The competition was fierce, yet in my mind I was convinced I was going to study business in college. I felt as though I was born to. 

On June 15, 2021, my path forever changed. I was working as a cashier at Nordstrom Rack when my phone buzzed in my back pocket. I finished ringing up my customer and checked to see the source of the notification. 

On my screen was an outlook notification reading: “Update to Your Wisconsin School of Business Application.” My heart began to beat out of my chest, my hands were shaking and I felt short for breath. As soon as permission was granted, I escaped to the restroom to uncover my acceptance, doubtless. 

I stepped into the bathroom, logged into my account and opened up the letter. I squinted at the decision letter — all I could see is one dreadful word  — denied. I kept re-opening my eyes, making sure that I could see clearly. Yet each time I read the word, it was still the same.

Denied. 

I was in denial. I thought to myself how there must be a mistake. This must be a joke. I am a business student. How could the admissions office not see that? 

I drove home from work crying so hard I could barely see the road ahead of me. I tried to tell my parents the news and the words couldn’t even leave my mouth. I was shattered beyond belief and did not know how I would return to a school not as a business student.  

The rest of my summer was filled with random cries, thoughts of transferring, self doubt and a lot of advisor appointments to figure out what to do with the next three long years of college. My parents and I would spend countless hours going through the UW-Madison major list trying to find anything that would interest me. I began to think that my college experience was going to be useless. I was never into science, not fit for an engineer and I always told myself that I hated to write. 

There seemed to be no options.

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At present, I am a second semester sophomore studying Economics and Communication Science. Shocking isn’t it? I found not just one but two majors of interest. 

In reality, someone at 18-years-old applying to colleges does not know what they are meant to do in life. A college major does not define who you are, how successful you will be or your career path. Change can and should be a good thing even when it does not always feel like it. High schools and colleges need to remind students that college comprises some of the most pivotal years of students' lives, and you should be open to change. As someone who wants to control everything around me, this was a hard but necessary idea to accept. 

Ironically, I now believe that I was not meant to get into the business school. In life you cannot control your destiny, but you can always control your outlook on your future. 

And who knows? Maybe I will change my major again as I learn more about what I am driven to do in life — now, I am always open to change.

Eva Laskin is a sophomore studying Economics and Communication Science. Do you think a college degree defines students? Send all comments to Opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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