Do Indecisive Newbies Turn into Frustrated Seniors? University Undergraduates Facing Dilemmas

Living Journalism

Do Indecisive Newbies Turn into Frustrated Seniors? University Undergraduates Facing Dilemmas

The struggles of two university students on opposite ends of their academic journey, searching for the path that would lead them to their dream careers. Get ready for an inspiring and insightful conversation on navigating the often confusing and unpredictable terrain of academia and beyond.

Laurine and Julia, two university undergraduates, sit down to discuss the exhilarating yet daunting journey of discovering a fulfilling career path in their respective fields. With one at the beginning of her university road and the other nearing the end, they delve into the struggles of decision-making, self-discovery, and the unexpected twists and turns that come along the way.

It's been almost a year since Julia, a determined nineteen-year-old from Spain, sat down at her childhood desk where shehad spent countless hours learning how to read and studying for her university entrance exams. With her trusty computerin front of her, she began conducting extensive research, typing in the question, "How do I pick an academic degree?" onGoogle. Then went through the list of tips from the first blog that appeared and went for Economics.

In contrast, Laurine, a 21-year-old from France, had made the same choice two years prior and was now in her final year of college. However, she found herself feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied with her chosen course of study. Once again, she sat down to ask herself a difficult question, "What do I do now?"

| Identify Your Talents, Tastes and Skills

Year after year, thousands of young people find themselves in the same situation, country by country. Although Julia, a freshwoman, and Laurine, a senior, are only a few years apart, the space between them is filled with opportunities for self-discovery. Laurine has spent three years studying Economics, but now she finds herself wondering if it was all "for nothing." She has considered dropping her major and starting over. "I am more mature, I’ve experienced more things, and yet I still feel like I am eighteen again, trying to figure out what I want to do."

Neither of them had a clear calling or sense of suitability that society applauds, which is the foundation of the entire educational system. They went along with the "logical choice" and stuck with the field they selected in high school. "Everyone around me was doing that; I had to find something," explains Laurine. Julia chose it because she had better grades in school in that subject: "I didn't expect it to be the way it is. I had an idealized view of what Economics was."

Failing to meet expectations is a very common dilemma for students, clarifies Lenka Waschková Císařová, a professor from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. This applies to both studying theory and doing internships. As the guarantor of the Journalism bachelor program, she has close contact with undergraduates and emphasizes the "primary role" of teachers in "showing you the possibilities of fulfilling your life expectations or work goals." From her experience, speaking to someone else often helps in finding a path.

| Seek Out Professional Resources

Julia remembers talking the most about choosing Economics with a friend who had just graduated from it. Laurine also discussed her options with one of her teachers and family, but she wondered, “if I wasn’t able to know, how could they?” Most academic systems offer professional help, such as counseling services or advisors. This is the case at the University of Valladolid in Spain, where laboral coach Inés Moya is a living example of how changing professional paths during adulthood can lead to happier outcomes. She started working as a recruiter but realized she was not satisfied with it, and now devotes her life to counseling college students.

Inés identifies three factors hindering the decision-making process after high school: lack of information, immaturity, and impressionability to family, friends, and society's expectations. Choosing higher education is slightly different; graduates might feel overwhelmed by the number of options and bound by their economic budget.

Being unhappy with current studies, feeling stuck in them, or not knowing what to do in the near future can have a significant impact on mental health. According to Inés, vital uncertainty can provoke “stress, anxiety, frustration, and worry,” emotions that can affect other areas of life. Institutions are aware of this. If you want to book a psychological consultation at Masaryk University, the first choice in a list of possible triggers is: “Inappropriate choice of field of study.”

| Continue Growing and Learning

Laurine is open about her struggles with her family and friends, and this eases the worry of disappointing them. However, she feels like the pressure is increasing as she moves forward in her studies, especially now that the "safety net" of the bachelor's degree is coming to an end. It's getting worse. "The Master's is more specific, and so you feel like you cannot make a mistake. It is my final step before entering the professional world," she explains. At the beginning of her studies, Laurine had a three-year window to explore her interests and find a career path. However, as graduation approaches, the pressure to make the right choice intensifies.

Julia, who is currently in her first year of the Master's program, shares a similar sentiment. She is waiting for the academic year to end to gain clarity about her options. "I want to see if I really find things I like or not, and what other options I have," she says. For now, she has realized that the uncertainty is impacting her academic performance.

During the first semester, her only motivation to study was to finish the subjects to avoid retaking them. The senior student, who defines herself as a "scholarly person," finds it tiring to pursue good academic results when studying something she does not like. The cycle repeats, with poor academic performance affecting her self-esteem, further reinforcing the idea that the chosen degree is not fitting.

Professor Waschková Císařová, who has been teaching for twenty years, recognizes this pattern. She observes that an active attitude is always helpful in finishing studies, even if it means changing one's expectations about their future job.

If Laurine and Julia could travel back in time, they might change their decisions, but they still have more questions than answers. "Yes, of course, I could do something else, but the question is still 'what'?" Laurine wonders. On the other hand, the Spanish girl sees the bright side of a choice she is still not entirely convinced of. A year ago, she would not have been able to see some of the options that she perceives now, and that is a silver lining.​​​​​​​

| Don’t Be Afraid of Change

Choosing a major or a career path can be a daunting decision for many young adults. It can also have a significant impact on their mental health and overall well-being. For those who have already chosen a path, feeling stuck, unhappy, or uncertain about their future can lead to stress, anxiety, and frustration. As students move forward in their studies, the pressure only increases, especially as they approach the end of their bachelor's degree. The master's degree is more specific, and students often feel like they cannot afford to make a mistake. This final step before entering the professional world can be a source of stress and anxiety for many.

For some, the uncertainty can impact their academic performance. A lack of motivation and interest in the subject can lead to poor grades, which, in turn, can affect self-esteem and lead to the idea that the chosen degree is not a good fit. However, staying active and engaged can help students stay on track. Even with the possibility of changing careers or majors, the decision can be challenging. Many students are left with more questions than answers, unsure of what to do next. It can be difficult to project oneself into the future, leaving many feeling lost and uncertain.

For other students, dropping out or leaving university is a possibility that crosses their minds regularly. This temptation is often more significant when students are away from home, like Laurine, who is currently studying abroad on Erasmus. Having a supportive environment, like understanding family and friends, can ease the pressure and provide comfort.

Although society often puts pressure on young adults to choose their careers at a young age, changing careers is not a failure. It is merely an attempt at finding the right fit, and starting from scratch can be scary. However, taking the leap and changing careers can lead to happier outcomes in the long run.

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