Credit: Jenny Dimitriadi

Degrees and other difficult decisions

By Kasturi Mazumder

What to do when you hate your degree

To choose a degree that you truly want to pursue without any scope for doubt or fear is a rare occurrence. Drowning in a sea of possibilities,and factors of capability, future pay and stability – the minds of innumerous students are inhibited. The problem intensifies when midway through the semester you realise, maybe this degree was a bad idea. With no life jacket or emergency exit, you shudder at the thought of the future. In order to continue, you must sit back and introspect. What exactly are your options?   

Primarily, after acknowledging that there might have been a blunder in your selection, the best approach to the situation would be calming yourself, your mental health takes utmost priority. Opting for your degree was a decision made by your past self with the knowledge you had at the time. In all likeliness, it was still probably the best way forward. Coming to university contributes to the widening of everyone’s horizons, and to bash yourself over your decision is the last thing to do. Our minds are dynamic. It is natural to make certain choices and rectify them later. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, our brain’s prefrontal cortex does not mature wholly until we reach our mid-twenties, and this very area is responsible for major planning, prioritising and making good decisions. It is then no surprise that young people fail to make major commitments like choosing a degree or career. Every decision that we make is an attempt to explore ourselves better, and making mistakes only helps us to understand what doesn’t serve us well. 

Secondly, in moments when it is natural to feel a lack of control, you must step forward and take charge of the reins of your life. This might be difficult while watching your life lose momentum, but it is important to remind yourself that you are the fuel which will drive you ahead. Pause and think about what it is that you truly resonate with. Where do you really want to get stuck in? Making a basic plan or even thinking about an alternative degree would help in calming down. The intense urge to dismiss all possible routes for betterment is one of self-sabotage. It is then more than a requirement to realise your potential and acknowledge alternative options. This would form a safety net for your heart, and act as a catalyst in pursuing what you really wish to do. 

Thirdly, decisions as personal as choosing your desired degree might cause you to feel lonely. This mindset is far from the real scenario and only contributes to your helplessness. Remember that even in the most insignificant moments of unease there is always help waiting to guide you forward. Almost all universities offer counselling and most have a career division to plan your next move. Apart from professional assistance, student groups and many surrounding peers might identify with your dilemma and would be more than happy to discuss and advise you. Communication sits at the heart of all conflict resolution and this applies even when the conflict is within you. Reach out to whoever you feel comfortable with, be it with your friends, family or any other safe space, and voice your fears out. Inform others and in that process affirm yourself, you can do this!

Lastly, whether you wish to change your current degree or complete it before making a shift, be brave and head straight for the goal. Remember that you will be fine. If you decide to complete the degree you’re currently enrolled in, you must applaud yourself for your resilience. Celebrate every tiny victory and not get worn down by the hurdles on the way. Alternatively, if you are planning to make the change right away, pat yourself on the back and celebrate your conviction. It is not easy to discover your calling and to act on it requires tremendous courage. You are your own hero! 


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