Never too late to find happiness

A student explains her process in declaring a double major in English during her senior year.


In third grade, my band teacher presented my class with different instruments. When he demonstrated how to play the flute, I knew right then and there I had to start playing.

Brad Schoener, my late elementary band teacher, ignited my passion for music. His dedication to teaching us to love music inspired me to become a composer.

The following year, my fifth-grade teacher, Jennifer Schneider, thought a short story I wrote was exceptional and allowed me the opportunity to read it to the school.

I was met with applause when I returned to my classroom.

Not only did it make me feel like a million bucks, but it inspired me to become a novelist. 

When the time came to apply to colleges, my family and friends made me feel like I had to choose between music and writing because, in their eyes, I couldn’t do both. 

Now, less than a month away from graduating, I know that the one I first chose was not my path in life.

When I came to Temple, I decided that I wanted to be a cello performance major because it was the instrument I felt most connected to, but my private teacher at the time wasn’t confident in my abilities. Soon after, neither was I. I lost my passion for music, but maybe it was never actually there. 

It would’ve made perfect sense to just switch to English when I realized that music wasn’t where my heart was, but I had already finished all the core requirements for my major by the end of my sophomore year. I had invested more than $60,000 in the Boyer College of Music and Dance, so I decided to keep studying music and settled on declaring an English minor, thinking it would be enough. 

By my junior year of college, it had quickly gotten to a point where I was miserable. I wasn’t studying what I loved.

I stopped caring. I was late to class more than I was on time. My assignments were always overdue. My professors were disappointed in me because I had the potential, but I lacked the enthusiasm to access it. 

I could have graduated in Fall 2018 if I continued majoring in music, but the summer prior, I had done a lot of self-reflection. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to graduate with regrets. I wanted to graduate with a degree in something I’d be proud of ⁠— a degree in English.

At the end of that summer, I declared a second major in English. It was liberating to finally take that step to do something I wanted, regardless of the extra time and money I would devote to it. Those things no longer mattered to me.

As a senior, I can say that after everything I have endured, between the strains on my mental health and financial concerns, it has all been worth it. This January, I will walk across the stage at Temple’s Performing Arts Center, accept my diploma, and smile out into the crowd, feeling proud of myself.

My advice is to make college worth your while. People will tell you that your passion can’t be your career, but stressing out about money and time shouldn’t come at the expense of your happiness. It’s never too late to change your major and your life.

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