Student Post: The Struggle of Choosing a Major When You’re Indecisive and Interested in Everything

I read an article once that claimed that the average college student changes their major four times before graduating. I may be alone in this opinion, but I think that person was miscalculating. How do you start a fresh four years of life where everyone is telling you that “you can be whatever you want,” without wanting to give everything a try? I feel like I’ve had enough majors for everyone at Grand Valley!

I’ve never been one to answer a question with, “I don’t know.” Rather, I was quite the opposite. So, I waltzed into my freshman year with a very strong-headed idea that I was certain of what I was going to major in and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

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Good one, self.

After taking my first semester of classes I realized the world of opportunity in front of me and I wanted to take it all in. I eventually got ahold of the course catalog and drove myself crazy with uncertainty. All the options made my head spin. I was a social work major, turned psych student, turned bio buff, turned pre-med pupil, turned neuroscience nerd (and don’t even get me started on minors). Changing majors is quite literally as easy as the push of a button.

All of the back and forth created a looming feeling of anxiety any time someone brought up the topic of education and career goals. They seem to be the only things people are interested in. It’s almost as if they’re the default conversation starter when meeting new people, and I know that I am just as guilty of asking everyone’s least favorite questions.

“What are you studying?” “What do you want to do with that?”

It’s terrifying!

And I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubbles, but we can’t all be Meredith Grey (but wouldn’t that be the life).

Now, countless advising appointments and mental breakdowns later, I’m confident of two things. First, we have advisors and mentors for a reason. They want us to utilize their expertise and pick their brains to figure out what’s next. Second, we’re meant to be unsure in college. We just have to fight through the confusion in order for it all to be worth it. People rarely come to a decision about the rest of their lives on the first try.

So here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: I’m never actually going to know for sure. And that’s okay! Even with the stress that comes with all of this decision-making, I think that’s the beauty of the phase of life we’re in right now. We get to choose the path we’re on, and we can either run down that path or take it one step at a time.

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Jordan Beckman is a sophomore in the honors college studying Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology. She is on leadership with Campus Ministry and spends her free time adventuring, petting dogs, and drinking coffee.

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Student Post: Why You Should Volunteer

I came into Grand Valley as Undecided for my major.  Above all, there was one thing I did know: that I wanted to major in something science related.  I wish I could say that this helped narrow things down for me, but it barely did such.

Within my first year, I ended up switching my major from undecided to Biomedical Sciences, and then from BMS to Behavioral Neuroscience.  As many might know, these two degrees are not very closely related!  What was I doing? I had no clue, and the anxiety of not knowing what I wanted to do for a career began to set in.

Fast forward to the summer before my second year at Grand Valley.  After speaking with my mother about my worries of not knowing what I want to do, I received some wonderful (and yet so simple) advice from her; to try to volunteer at various places that I could see myself working at in the future.  I took her advice and ran with it, and soon found myself at the volunteer orientation at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.  I had been offered a position in the Pediatrics Unit, and was so excited to be working with children in rehab!

The experience I obtained from volunteering at a hospital was life changing.  I realized that not only was it a great feeling to help motivate children during their daily rehab, but I also realized that I would totally love to care for them as a career.  Through volunteering, I was able to work closely with therapists, nurses, floor managers, you name it!

I experienced so many different tasks, ranging from coordinating activities to helping entertain the siblings while the families visited patients, caring for patients as they ate dinner or winded down for the night, and helping guide them in therapy.  I ended up changing my major to nursing just a couple weeks into volunteering at the hospital.

My advice to you is to put yourself out there and volunteer somewhere during your college career.  If I had not volunteered at MFB, I may have never discovered that my true calling was to practice medicine in pediatrics.

Not only that, but I also gained experience in many different departments in the hospital that will benefit me not only for competitive positions but also for my own reference.  Not to mention, I met amazing people through volunteering (patients, therapists, nurses, and other fellow volunteers!).  I am now involved in Rotaract at GVSU and am actively involved in volunteering in other areas such as the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP).

Each time I volunteer, I learn more about myself and what types of activities I enjoy/don’t enjoy; you will certainly benefit from it!
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Megan Latreille is a sophomore in the Honors College.  When she has free time, she loves to go for walks in new areas and practice yoga.  She love shoes, plants, cats, goats, and ice cream.  After switching her major two times and struggling to determine what career path is right for me, she has finally landed on nursing.  

Student Post: Eight Things I Learned My Freshman Year

College is a new experience so there’s a lot to learn, I am sharing my biggest tips and tricks to ensure success in your freshman year. 

 

Stay organized. There is no one around telling you when to clean or make food or remind you to do your homework. These are things you have to remember to do on your own now.

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Get involved. College is only 4 years (more or less), so take advantage of the opportunities available on this campus. Not only are clubs great resume boosters, but they allow you to meet people who have similar passions and could become great friends.

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Say yes to new things. College is full of new things so say yes to trying them and meeting new people. You never know what the experience may lead to.

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But also know when to say no. While you want to get the most out of your college experience, you are here for school. If you have a big exam on Monday, then studying should be a priority.

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The library is your friend. Your room is not always the most efficient place to get work done. In private you can say “just one episode” that will turn into 5, but the library almost makes you feel guilty if you don’t study while you are there.

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Professors are people too. I feel like sometimes we forget this. They are people who care about your education and want to see you succeed. Professors come to GVSU because they care about students so ask them for help when you need it.

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Don’t be afraid to change your major. You are here to find what you love and want to do for the rest of your life, if that isn’t what you originally thought it was then find an advisor and switch.

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Stress relief is important. College is hard so find some way to relieve your stress daily, weekly, or whenever you need to. You can’t just let it all build up inside.

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Rachael Morin is a freshman in at Grand Valley this year. Her major is Hospitality and Tourism Management with a business minor. She is a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and the Thirst Project club. In her free time she enjoys ice cream, crime shows, and shopping.

Student Post: A Fulbright Year in Germany

I was studying in the Mary Idema Pew library just three weeks away from graduating, when I received an e-mail from the Institute of International Education with the subject line “Fulbright U.S. Student Program Application Notification;” an e-mail I had awaited for more than six months.

Reading the first sentence and its congratulations, I gasped loudly and threw a hand over my mouth in disbelief. Those studying around me probably wondered, and rightfully so, what kind of thing could possibly elicit so much joy in the university library with the exam period looming. Let me tell you what kind of thing that is…

A Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany entails one’s placement at a German school to teach part time English language, American history, culture and politics, and the general fostering of cross-cultural dialogue both in the school and community. The overarching program goal is to promote mutual understanding between countries. I was also granted a spot in the Fulbright ETA subgroup called the Diversity Program, in which one’s school placement is quite diverse with many students having migrant or refugee backgrounds.

I teach in Fürth, Bavaria at Hardenberg-Gynamsium, an institution for grades 5-12, as well as at the diverse Grundschule Frauenstraße, a school for grades K-4. My colleagues are wonderful and my students so eager and curious. For example, if I had 1€ (Euro) for every time I’ve been asked how I feel about Donald Trump, gun laws, and football, cheerleaders, or prom, I would be rich! Controversial questions, the exchange of perspectives, and breaking down stereotypes are all an exciting part of the job.

There is no denying the challenge of being plopped in a new city, in a foreign country, to live in a new language/culture, with a new job, new apartment, new roommate, and new friends. One important lesson that teaches you, if you let it, is how to really establish yourself in a new place, make connections, and build a new life.

In my quest to do just that, I’ve enrolled in the university here (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität) where I study Arabic and Swahili. I’ve also joined an organization (Ehrenamtlisch Flüchtlingsbetreuung in Erlangen) that offers tutoring to refugee students who have been resettled in Germany; I teach English to two boys from Damascus, Syria while they act as Arabic tutors for me. I also play basketball for a club team in Nürnberg and coach a team of fifth and sixth grade girls through a nationwide effort called Integration Durch Sport that seeks to help migrant and refugee students better integrate into German schools. Practice is always a hilarious mix of charades and translations given the girls’ variety of native languages.

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Sarah Cullip graduated in 2017 with a degree in English & German Secondary Education after her tenure as a member of the Cross Country, Track & Field, and Women’s Basketball teams, a representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a German Club member, and a Cook Leadership Academy Fellow. Sarah then received a Fulbright grant to Germany, where she currently works as an English Teaching Assistant, studies Arabic and Swahili, tutors refugees, and plays and coaches basketball. Sarah will spend the summer interning at a school in Kenya with hopes to teach another year in Germany before pursuing a Master’s degree in International Comparative Education. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, travelling and reading.

Meijer Lecture Series: CyberLife

The Meijer Lecture Series provides a platform for Honors students to interact with speakers that are experts in their field. This year is no different, with two speakers lecturing about cyber security.

Dr. Jared DeMott holds a PhD from Michigan State University and is the founder of VDA Labs. VDA Labs is an information security firm that helps organizations with their penetration testing, advanced security training and code security services.

DeMott was previously a vulnerability analyst with the NSA and was a finalist in Microsoft’s BlueHat prize contest. DeMott is currently a professor at Dakota State University and spends much of his time lecturing at institutions around the United States.

Barb Hiemstra holds a BA degree in Telecommunications from Michigan State University and has additional certificates within the field. Hiemstra currently works as a Privacy Engineer for Steelcase, a position that allows her to work with the Security, Legal, Software, and Product Development teams to reduce risk and increase operational privacy.

Hiemstra was formerly a Information Security-Governance Manager at Perrigo, the Information Security Director and the Deputy Director for IT at Kent County. Hiemstra is also the co-founder and a co-chair for the Region 6 DHS’s WEst Michigan Cyber Security Consortium (WMCSC), served on the IGNITE Steering Committee for Region 6 Law Enforcement, is a member of the State of Michigan CISO’s Kitchen Cabinet Advisors, and serves on the Advisory Board of the COllege of Information Technology at Baker College.

The Meijer Lecture will occur on Tuesday, March 20 at 5 pm and will be held downtown in the Siedman College of Business Forum. For additional information, please click here.

Grand Rapids as a Spring Break Destination

In only four days the long-awaited spring break will finally be here. While many students might be traveling to find the sunshine or abroad,  others will stay in the area.

Good news for those staying in GR, because exciting things are happening and we cannot wait to share them with you.

Fun for all:

Gilda’s Laughfest. This festival runs from March 8-18 and emphasizes the impact that laughter can have on emotional and physical well-being. Not sold? The proceeds go toward those fighting cancer or are experiencing grief and loss in their lives. Events include a 5k, stand up comedy, tours of Gilda’s club and more. Check it out here.

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Museums. As always, take the time off to check out Grand Rapid’s amazing museums. The Grand Rapid’s Public Museum has its exhibit on Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids and interactive virtual reality with their finback whale, Finny. The Grand Rapids Art Museum has an exhibit on the Great Lakes Cycle and also offer yoga classes!

Grand Rapids Griffins. Grab some friends or family and go see the Griffins play! Tickets start as low as $20 at the box office or check with student organizations and see if anyone is selling them at a better rate!

Monster Jam. Get rid of some stress and check out a monster truck competition with tickets as low as $15. 

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For our 21-and-up group:

Founder’s Brewing Company’s KBS week.  March 5-10 marks Founder’s KBS Week. This means breweries around Grand Rapids will be showcasing Kentucky Breakfasts Stouts and hotels will have great deals for KBS packages! Need more information, check out Experience GR’s website here.

Beer Month Grand Rapids. February 15-March 15 is a month long celebration of Grand Rapid’s craft beers. With more than 80 breweries and being named the Best Food City in Michigan, there are hundreds of amazing drink and meal pairings to be had during your week off.

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If you take advantage of any of these events, remember to show your student ID as many places in Grand Rapids offer college discounts!

Now go out there Lakers and enjoy our beautiful city during your week off!

Student Post: Anyone can Study Abroad

This past summer I was able to study abroad in France for 9 weeks with the help of the Gilman Scholarship. My program was a non-GVSU program located in the south of France in a small town called Pau. I was able to study French language and culture there, while living with a host family and taking classes in both French and English. It was my first time traveling internationally, and was my most memorable summer to date.

I think my Junior Seminar helped prepare me a little for my travels a little, since I took European Civilizations, giving me a broad background in European history and culture. I even got to see some of the places we discussed in that class in real life. I met students from all over the world, was able to study at a French university, and travel on the weekends.

I know a lot of students want to study abroad, but often feel that they can’t. I just wanted to share a little of my story in order to tell you that anyone can study abroad if they really want to.

At Grand Valley, many of the semester long programs cost the same or even less than a normal semester at GV. If you can’t study abroad during the Fall or Winter semester because you’re in a program such as the nursing program (like me), there are tons of options for summer study abroad programs instead. With the help of scholarships and working a part time job, I made my dream come true.

The Padnos International Center and the Office of Fellowships helped me navigate finding study abroad programs and applying for scholarships. It can be a daunting task when you start looking into studying abroad, but GV has a lot of resources to help students out with the whole process.

My advice is to just go for it. The other students I know who have studied abroad have all said the same thing: the work you put into studying abroad will be so worth it in the end.

If spending a summer taking classes with international students, eating crepes overlooking a French castle, and hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains on the weekend sounds like something you’d enjoy, then I encourage you to achieve your dream, too.

Plus, I know what I learned abroad will help me with my future career as a nurse, as I care for people from different cultures on a daily basis, and as I will (hopefully) work as an international nurse in the future. I’ve realized that I learn so much every time I travel somewhere new: about people, the world, and even myself.

Studying abroad has been the best decision I have made thus far in my life, which I know sounds cliche, but it really is true.

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Adrianna Lee is a senior at GVSU. She is in her last semester of the nursing program and received the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad.