A friend of mine recently asked me a question I’d never been asked before: she was wondering whether I was passionate about what I was studying at NYU. Little did she know how much I’ve thought about this since my first day of classes. As we discussed each of our academic choices and what led us to them, we realized how many factors played into the decisions we’ve made. Our talk made me realize that a lot of us fail to acknowledge the importance of going after that which we’re passionate about. Seeing how much I benefited from rethinking my own initial thought decisions, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my decision-making experiences. Before reading the rest, try and think of some of your own personal priorities when making academic/professional decisions. Have you been prioritizing your interests and passions when making these decisions?
What I have seen in students, myself included, is an inclination towards areas of study, and future careers, that aren’t compatible with their interests. The reasons we’re being drawn to these academic/professional decisions vary. Some are focused on a specific job, others just want guaranteed financial safety. But regardless of why and what our choice is, we have to be careful not to be mistaken about the outcomes of our decisions.
As an international student, I opted for the data science concentration, one that would allow me to stay in the US for two more years after graduation; a very practical decision, you would think. However, I was considering getting the STEM concentration before knowing about the additional two years. Even though I’ve always preferred the social sciences, I was drawn to data science because I was sure that a technology track would grant me access to the faster road towards professional and financial safety. The decision to take on this specific academic track followed my belief that it would be the best way to attain my desired results.
A semester into my decision, I realized how little I was enjoying my classes. Suddenly all I could think was “how will I ever be able to succeed in a job that revolves around this?”. I didn’t disregard my interests when making this decision; but I certainly didn’t prioritize them either. I didn’t anticipate how my lack of interest would affect my attitude towards my classes, and consequently my performance. I shared the story of this experience with my friend. As I reiterated how important I thought it was to prioritize your interest and enjoyment, she told me she’d considered getting an econometrics second major – even though she absolutely hates math. She’s concerned she won’t be as qualified professionally without a STEM degree. But how qualified will she be after struggling to enjoy and engage in almost all required classes?
The very little experience I’ve had has taught me to consider the repercussions of my decisions with great care. A career that revolves around data science is the quicker road to success and financial safety for a lot of people, but it probably isn’t for me. Going after my interests gives me energy and grit, two things that’ll probably be very important in my road to success.
I have to be honest and admit that I still haven’t been able to make a lot of decisions. I understand that one can’t make decisions with just their passions and interests in mind, but I recognize that the better outcome will most likely be strongly associated with my interests. For now, I’ve chosen to pursue a second major in psychology and intend on taking the management concentration because learning more about these topics excites me. Interestingly, I’ve also decided to keep my data science track; I became passionate about the different purposes that data can serve alongside so many of my interests. In finding a way to prioritize my passions, I ended up discovering a new one: when it’s paired with psychology and management, I enjoy data science quite a lot. In finding a way to prioritize my passions, I ended up learning something new about myself.
I hope this story encourages you to get in touch with your passions, and I hope that connection only drives you forward.