“I went to register for classes and had a mental breakdown. I don’t want to take these classes or be a music major anymore. I’M FREAKING OUT.”
That was me. It was the end of my sophomore year, right around this time, and I was supposed to be registering for my junior year, fall semester classes. I woke up at o’ dark hundred, because that’s what you do when registration is a madhouse at your school. (FYI- It’s like that EVERYWHERE, not just your school.)
So it’s probably 6:45am and I’m looking over the classes I’m going to register for once I’ve refreshed the page 10000 times, and I can actually submit. I can’t even remember what classes I was looking at that day. What I do remember is the overwhelming feeling of major anxiety, fear, and panic. I DID NOT WANT TO BE A MUSIC MAJOR ANYMORE. I DID NOT WANT TO REGISTER FOR THOSE CLASSES.
The feeling was so powerful, so all-consuming, I lost it. I called my mom in a hysterical crying fit. Poor woman. I had always been extremely level-headed, rational, rarely emotional. She probably thought my leg had been cut off.
Registering for classes is stressful as is, but my greater panic was, if not music–THEN WHAT?! I had spent my entire life thinking I’d go to college to study music. I was registering for my JUNIOR YEAR of classes. If I didn’t register for music classes right then and there, what was I going to register for? WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?! How would I ever graduate on time? HOW IS A 19 YEAR OLD SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT SHE WANTS TO DO FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE?!
Major freak out.
If this is you…
1. Take a deep breath.
In fact, take several slow, deep breaths. Try to calm yourself. The world is not ending. You will figure it out. It will be okay. I promise.
2. Just register for SOMETHING.
Best case scenario take 15 credits of your general education classes that you still need. I’m pretty sure I freaked out so hard that I didn’t register for anything. Don’t do that. You have months to change your schedule.
3. Understand that you are not going to solve this today.
I didn’t register for classes and then I headed straight to my academic advisor’s office and sat in the hallway for (what I remembering feeling like) hours until he was available to see me. Didn’t he understand it was a 911 advising situation?! Nope. After finally sitting down with him, he wasn’t even helpful. I actually remember feeling more discouraged and confused after we met. For some reason, I had put the expectation on myself that I would know that day what classes I should register for, what my new major should be, and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That’s insanity. Furthermore, except in very rare cases, your academic advisor, is not going to be great at helping you process what other major is a better fit for you. My advisor was a music professor. That’s all he knew. He had no information to give me about other majors outside of the music department. In fact, he spent the whole time trying to convince me to switch to Music Education. But that’s not his fault; that’s his job. Bottom line: you aren’t going to solve the complexities of this confusion today. Give yourself a break. You have all summer to chew on it.
4. Focus on what’s in front of you right now.
I know these questions seem like the most important issue in your life right now, but you need to focus on finishing the semester strong. My melt down bled into every day of the rest of the semester. Not good. You need to prioritize going to class, getting your work down, preparing for finals, hanging out with friends. Just do the next thing. Again, you will figure this out, but you can’t put everything else on hold until you do.
5. Find the right people to meet with.
Over the rest of the semester, figure out who would be a good resource for you at your school. Most schools have an “undecided major” office. It might be your career center, a student success center, or the counseling center. If you don’t know where to start, ask your RA (even an old one). They usually know the right school resources to point you towards. The “right people” also include your parents, your boss at work, your small group leader, or anyone you trust and who knows you well.
So take a deep breath. It doesn’t have to be fixed today. And if you’re ready for more, I have some other thoughts on finding direction in college here.