The question “What do you want to do?” had always been painful for me to answer, not because I had no idea, but because I had too many ideas. Those of us who do not have one or even a few related passions often call ourselves multipotentialites. Multi-what? Multipotentiality is simply the term to describe individuals with multiple, varying interests, which are often possessed at once or change rapidly, as described by career coach Emilie Wapnick. (For more on multipotentialites, see Wapnick’s TED Talk.) Our society tends to admire the stories of specialists, the individuals who tend to have a focused interest. If you find yourself spread among a broad spectrum of disciplines, trying to adapt to a specialist-driven education system and world, fear not, because multipods are everywhere.
Choosing a major or even a field of study can seem daunting, especially as someone who is interested in multiple fields. Here are some tips to keep in mind to aid in the decision.
Explore, and Stay Curious A friend of mine, a successful entrepreneur and college graduate, once told me, “If anyone tells you that they know what they’re doing (in college), they’re lying to themselves.” Although many people do eventually find their purpose and a potential career in their university years, most end with a very different idea of what their practical interests are—both multipotentialites and specialists. It’s important to recognize that your university years are the last chance to explore any loose passions you might have, whether that be through academic or social means. This includes taking classes that might not be driven by one core purpose, because you may not have one until much later.
Utilize Internships and Opportunities to Shadow Internships are one of the best ways to know what a career is actually like, and ideal to help focus on pursuits that help you move towards your life “purpose.” Additionally, shadowing a professional can give insight into the realities of a job that you may have otherwise had preconceptions of.
Stay Generalized As someone with many interests or rapidly changing ones, it might be best to choose a generalized field of study, such as Liberal Arts or Cultural Studies, instead of something specific, like Environmental Law or Biomedical Engineering. Doing so will leave you open to more careers and later education pathways.
Consider Practicality Your academic background (GPA, SAT Scores, etc.), and the standards of universities themselves also play an essential role. Weighing these factors will make certain options clearly better.
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