Poma: It’s Okay to Change Your Mind in College


Emily Rincon

“I work in and did my major in LNCO.” Portrait of Sasha Poma by the Language and Communication building at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City on March 23, 2022. (Photo by Emily Rincon | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sasha Poma, Assistant Opinion Editor


Many children of immigrants feel like they have to choose between being a lawyer or a doctor. I chose the lawyer route. My parents sacrificed so much to leave their home countries so my brother and I could have a better life. The “follow your dreams” mindset wouldn’t pay the bills and guarantee success. A law degree certainly would.

During my freshman year, an advisor told me that English majors do great on the LSAT. Incidentally, I liked to read and am a good writer (I guess). I became an English major out of compromise, thinking I’d chosen a practical degree that also incorporated what I love to do. I lucked out. But when I started applying for law school, I realized that my passions didn’t transfer to law. Eventually, I had to accept that it’s worse to go into a field I didn’t care about than one with a lower salary.

In my time as an English major, my love for writing has only strengthened. But I also realized that law school wasn’t the right path for me, and I found a field that I truly do feel passionate about. To get to this point, I needed to fully embrace change, even if it doesn’t feel easy or comfortable to do.

As soon as I said “no” to law school, I knew that I wanted to teach English. You might be thinking, “Teachers don’t make a lot of money. Lawyers do.” You’re right. Almost everyone told me the same thing. But I’ve gotten more fulfillment out of being a TA and editing at the Daily Utah Chronicle than I would have sitting at a desk looking through briefs while raking in the cash.

I always thrived in the academic sphere and teaching simply made sense for me. Being an extrovert, I love face-to-face interactions and working closely with others. Teaching meant I could help people in a more personal, meaningful way. I could problem-solve with my students and writers, collaborate and learn from others. But I had to realize that I wanted to work in this type of environment. I didn’t recognize that when I boxed myself into a career I knew I didn’t like but felt that I had to stick with.

Stepping out of that box came with joining the Chronicle’s opinion desk in 2019. I had to learn a completely different writing style than my creative writing classes taught. Apparently, opinion writing didn’t mean I could come here and say whatever I wanted. I had to learn to thoughtfully craft an argument in less than 1,000 words and navigate a new environment with new people.

As opinion writers, we want to make a change or at the very least, change people’s minds about the way they view the world. We come into college with that same mindset, to change the world and make a difference. But many of us stay confined to one major, career field or identity throughout these years.  We may feel that changing our trajectory in college means that we failed or that we’re behind in life. Even though college should be a time of exploration and development of different interests, we feel pressured to pick a major, join a club or label ourselves as soon as we grab our UCard.

But there’s hope for us. We’ve all seen the posters that say 60% of University of Utah students change their major while they’re here. That means students like you and me chose to dive into something completely different, but likely more fulfilling than what they did before. Instead of telling ourselves that we need all the answers on one concrete path, we should focus on giving ourselves the space to change what we want to do at any given point — not just crucial moments in life like applying to and graduating from college.

Change doesn’t come at opportune times. Life as we know it has and will rapidly change, so we can’t hold fast to all of our plans. The better we adapt to new challenges and accept that things will inevitably throw off our proverbial grooves, the more prepared we are for life and its curveballs.

Since I threw my five-year plan out the window, my next steps feel less certain. After this, I’ll be moving to California and marrying my best friend, both of which I didn’t expect. I don’t know which grad school I’ll get accepted to, if any. I don’t even know if I’ll be a teacher for the rest of my life. But I’m not scared. If anything, I can now take comfort in the unknown, and understand that all of this is fine.


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