Undecided and Lost

Hi, I’m new here. I’ve been having a bit of a dilemma regarding my majors in the sense that I genuinely don’t know what to choose for college. This is currently my third year of college in general, meaning I was a freshman at CSULB, and I’m currently at my second year at LBCC, meaning I would technically be a junior for CSULB. I never wanted to go to college due to cost and lack of interest in majors for the colleges, but the only reason I’m there is because of my parents, my mom specifically. She expects me to get a major and graduate which is a problem since I’ve mentioned that I don’t know what major to choose to either lack of interest or thinking the major would be useless in the long run. Before I went to college, I tried convincing her that I didn’t want to go as I wanted to take a gap year, get a job and figure out a plan, but I didn’t know how to respond when she asked if why I couldn’t get a job and go to school. Even if I attempt to drop out, or take educational leave, She would be really mad and call me lazy for not going to school. I’m feel stuck right now and it feels like my options are extremely limited. I tried reaching out for advice from the career counselors at both schools, but it feels like I didn’t get much out of it, even with taking assessments.

Leaving aside the question of college, what would you like to do with your adult life? Knowing something about that will help people here give you ideas that might be useful.

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Often leaving for awhile and working helps clarify things.

I assume you have looked at some of the career-oriented certificates and degrees at community college (radiology tech, PT assistant, nursing, fire science etc.)

Would you be interested in a trade? Would your parents have a problem with you not getting a college degree?

There are many ways to do college. One of mine left school, worked, did some community college, and is now in a private college degree completion program. She works and takes two classes/semester, mostly online, and will finish by 30. Maybe that is a good compromise.

It is very difficult to do work when you are not interested in it! Honestly you can major in anything but I am wondering if something more practical and hands on would work for you.

In any case, working for awhile can help clarify and motivate and I hope your parents can support a break for you.

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Major in whatever is interesting to you. Don’t worry about it being useless in the long run. If you don’t have a burning passion for Art History don’t major in it, but if you do go for it! I would encourage you to stick it out. But there is a lot of benefit to taking a gap year and working too.

Having a college degree in anything is better for job prospects than not having one. Tons of people major in one thing in college and then find themselves 5 years down the road having taken a different path than what their major might have indicated, but having that college degree opened the first door for them.

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I have looked into those career oriented certificates/degrees and I still not sure, I’m still unsure if I want to go to trade school. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t take it well if I didn’t get a degree because my mom said that she wants me to get one. I’m not sure if she would be okay with me taking so long to finish college because she and my dad started to get frustrated with my brother not graduating soon (he isn’t in college now atm). I guess something pratical would work

Which classes have been your favorite? Which ones are you getting good grades in? If you were to drop out and apply for a job, what kind of job would you look for?

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I don’t really have a favorite. The class I usually tolerate the most is math. I usually get above average grades in nearly all my classes (B’s or A’s). I have honestly have no idea what job to look for, my best bet is to find what would fit, I guess.

It sounds like you are smart and practical.

What do you like to do when you are not at school? Hobbies? Sports? Volunteering?

Are there things you really don’t like to study or do?

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Sorry you are finding yourself in this situation. I’m worried that a big part of your indecision is your mom. I think what you are trying to say is that you are lost within the parameters that your mom has set for you. It’s time to try to figure out things for yourself. I’m not suggesting this as an act of rebellion; you can define your future and be a loving and respectful son or daughter.

I might be wrong and it will not be the first time but that is what I’m reading between your lines. I wish you the best in figuring out a future that works for you.

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What I do after school is exercise, take short walks, and play video games. Not the top of my head, but I’m more or less neutral with most of the classes I take, except for Economics and maybe history and some sciences.

I think your parents are right — you need to gut it out and finish your degree. It doesn’t sound like you are a match for a vocational pathway. If you were to drop out and work you would be facing minimum wage jobs that I do not believe would inspire you or provide any clarity for your future.

I would recommend looking at a broad degree like business. You don’t have to be passionate about it. With a BA or BS in anything you would have many more options. Go through the list (link below) of majors at CSULB and pick a couple of things that don’t seem terrible. Look at requirements. Explore: Choosing a Major

Just get it done. Pick something and move on.

Then, I’m going to suggest that you really work to get out of this funk you are in. Put down the video games and volunteer in your community. You will feel better, honest. You may also find something meaningful or even a career pathway, but at the very least you are giving back.

Also, meet with a counselor at Long Beach and plan to study abroad. This experience is usually life-changing and you need to shake things up. Also, make sure to look into internships, which may lead to a job when you graduate.

Reaching out to this group was the first step. Now get unstuck and try to enjoy college. You have the rest of your life to work.

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Funny thing is that I hardly have been playing video games since college started

But your right that I do have to get out of this.

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You can do it — just get out of your head for awhile. Set a deadline — picking a major by the end of next week. Look around for volunteer opportunities and do something soon.

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Last question, why do you think a vocational pathway won’t work, you never gave me a clear explanation on it.

Well I think it probably would, but why? There is nothing in particular you are interested in, in that regard. If you said you always thought it would be cool to be an electrician, then great. But vocational also needs study. You do well in school and upper division courses are usually more interesting. Get an internship and you can get a better sense of what you want to do with your life. You can get your degree in two years, get an entry level job and then figure out your next step.

Edited to add: For vocational you have to pick a specific job you want to do. Then, you will need to go to school to learn it. If, after you start working in that field, you discover you don’t like it, your options are really limited. It’s not like that with a BA or BS. Since you have no clear profession in mind, vocational is not the best choice.

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I disagree with the advice to “justt do it” which is like the old “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” kind of suggestion. Your situation may be more complicated than just, um, trying harder.

It may be that you aren’t currently inclined toward academics for whatever reason. Burnout, stress, depression, undiagnosed ADHD-or you have some other interst or talent that is not being tapped. Go with your interest and strenghts and get help for any problems you perceive, if any.

I understand your mom wants you to stay in school. But I am hoping maybe a meeting with you, her and a counselor could reassure her. Your mom just wants you to be secure and happy and thinks college is the only way to go for that. There ARE other paths and also there ARE other ways to do college, slowly, over a few years.

There is no need to fear a leave. Leaving school for awhile to work or maybe alsovolunteer can be really clarifying. Many many people do this for one reason or another and return at an older age or get their degree while working . Check out continuing ed or the possibility of taking one or two classes at a time. Financial aid requires two but at some schools, you can take one online class at a time for a half semester each.

And I know some really bright and capable kids who went back to coummity college after being at a residential school, and did radiology tech or some other certificate and have good paying jobs. Sometimes after a BA. I have friends who went to the North Bennett Street School for piano tuning and building. Another friend, who has a BA, is now a boat builder (there is a school in Brooklyn Maine). The National Outdoor Leadership School trains instructors and medics for wilderness trips and has finanicial aid. There are lots of ways to earn a living and train for it.

It sounds like you really need a change and need help and support for that and I hope you find it. (Again, my kid left, worked at low level jobs, went back p/t and is almost done at 29. Mature kid doing well.)

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You seem to need advice beyond what the career offices at colleges are equipped to offer you. As a professor and academic advisor, I would suggest the following:

  1. How many total credits do you have? Are most of them applicable to any particular major? If at CC, you have probably taken most of the gen ed courses.
  2. Are you open to taking one or two classes and working part time? It wasn’t clear if you’re doing that now anyway.
  3. Is there any AA degree program at LBCC that interests you? That could be wrapped up a lot quicker, I think.

In reading your posts, I sense family dynamics issues more than academic ones.

In our family, my oldest hated K-12 and only somewhat tolerated college. He did graduate - if only to get the piece of paper so he could work in his computer field. His passion for computer stuff kept him going - and the fact that parental $$ support wasn’t going to be there for the rest of his life.

What is your passion? If you haven’t found one yet, what could you think about exploring? If you took a gap year, what would you do?

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OP said they wondered if they should quit school and get a job but then had no idea what kind of job they would get. I can’t see that a gap year is the answer since that would require lots of independent planning and choices OP doesn’t appear able to make right now.

I’ve dealt with depression and in my opinion the last thing this student needs is to lose all structure and moorings by dropping out with nothing planned. So yes, I suggested just making a decision on major and moving forward because it is often the way to take the initial steps out of depression paralysis. It’s also why I suggested volunteering, an internship for some job experience and studying abroad, to get away from home and have fun. That doesn’t preclude counseling. I agree that the underlying issues do not appear to be academic.

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I know many kids who left school and worked at restaurants for awhile, then returned. My kid also worked at a dry cleaner’s. No these are not typical College Confidential gap year activities. They are real life. My kid eventually got a low level job with autistic kids and returned to school, and so did many of the others I know.

Getting a job isn’t that hard right now. There are tons of signs up. It doesn’ take a whole lot of planning and getting up to go to work provides more structure than school. It also pays.

I took a class in my 50’s and there was a woman in the class who had 6 kids. She cried at the beginning of class and said she had been doing school for 17 years and this was her last class.

The majority of college students in the US are “non-traditional,” doing school part or full time while working and/or raising a family, often in degree completion, continuing ed, adult learner type programs.

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