College Life Crisis and Seeking Advice about Majoring in Music & English

Hi, College freshman here. Kinda entering a college life crisis over what I want vs what I “need.” To put it bluntly, I want to study stuff relating to my creativity particularly music and writing. I’ve always wanted to work in the music industry growing up, either by singing or more recently directing music soundtracks. I even thought about branching out to education or marketing since it “sounds safer.” But of course, I’ve been hit with several people calling it a “useless degree” and maybe try being a “social worker” or “diplomat” instead.

I thought about writing, particularly about creative writing and maybe entertainment journalism since I grew a very strong passion for writing and literature over the years. Even going so far as to writing my own stories, doing alot of worldbuilding, and analyzing all sorts of shows/comics for fun. I thought about becoming a writer or a showrunner in some entertainment media, or just writing out and publishing my own stories. Hell, I even thought about being a journalist for some entertainment media or an English educator since it seems like a safer career to be in. But like music I’ve also been hit with the whole “useless degree” speech and it’s getting on my nerves.

Right now I’m majoring in English and thinking of double majoring or at least minoring in Music but I’m kinda having anxiety right now from all the negativity over the years. I’m very strongly passionate about these things, and I chose to go to college cause I believed it was the only way to explore my passions as well as network with others. My high school only pushed us to go to community college but I thought it wasn’t for me since It doesn’t really help me with my majors and I was worried I’d get stuck. I kinda thought about exploring other majors but I realized STEM, Health, and Law just wasn’t for me, and I’m kinda iffy about studying business & marketing, and even more iffy about studying Hospitality & Tourism.

Right now I’ve been struggling trying to find scholarships since the past year I’ve been in a very, VERY, unhealthy mindset from stress and I just didn’t know how or if I’m doing the right things for scholarships. I honestly had no idea who to talk to about this since my high school was no help and navigating who to talk to about this in my college is frustrating. I’m most likely gonna take loans this year, but I just want some honest advice from people who know what they’re talking about.

My two biggest fears are to becoming a failure and working in a career I have no passion for, and I want to avoid it at all costs.

(posted this on Reddit and Quora)

First, I hope you can avoid loans as much as possible. I am not sure if you qualify for financial aid or if you would be eligible for merit. There are more affordable ways to do college (including doing some classes at community college, taking CLEP tests).

I always feel sad when students come on here wanting to do a creative major like music or writing. But I also respect parents’ financial concerns.

it sounds like you are exploring- and that should be appropriate and supported before you declare a major next year, but again, I respect parental worries. I still feel college should be about that exploration and not yet about explicit career goals.

For music, I can tell you that music majors can access many careers, in and out of music. They can go to med, law, business, nursing schools or grad school. Ditto English majors. Both are respected in the work world but neither has a clear career path: you figure it out. So short term job certainly may be low but long term it may be high, so to speak.

Take classes that explore your interests, and try to find work/volunteering/internships that further clarify what you want to study and what you might want to pursue. Let go of deciding on what job you want, for this year anyway.

In the meantime, taking out loans is concerning, always, even if necessary. Are your loans only the subsidized ones?

As for stress, you don’t mention COVID. I find that so many are posting about stress or depression or lost motivation and don’t mention this big elephant in the room. Talk to someone- everyone I know seems to need to get counseling as a result of pandemic stresses, which augment any other stresses in our lives.


You’re a freshman. You just started college. You don’t need to have a career path totally mapped out right now.

Just see the year out and continue taking your classes. You can eventually find work in what interests you, but understand that there might be a few years of slogging in jobs you don’t love after you graduate. That’s expected when you are young.

As for scholarships, you know those are hard to come by. Can you afford your school without them? That certainly doesn’t help with stress. Talk with your parents about college finances right now. You might have to consider transferring if you must rely on scholarships, unless you are prepared to put a lot of effort into getting them.


Make frequent use of office hours with professors, specially those teaching in the creative field, to establish a rapport. You might eventually find one that will share insights into various professional avenues - many you currently might not even know exist.

This is what happened to my daughter - it wasn’t until end of freshman, beginning of sophomore year that some professors shared some valuable insights that helped her getting a clearer picture of what to zero in on.

I’m convinced that there are no wholesale “useless” degrees. Your time at college will give you a foundation of knowledge and teach you the process on how to obtain more of that - and it will tell employers how successful you were at the “college venture”.

But at the end, it is your drive, determination, skills, talents, more than your specific degree, that will make you a success at any job that feels “home” to you.

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