Not Knowing What To Do

By Lucy Pan ’24

When I first applied to Pomona in the fall of 2019, I was a nervous seventeen-year-old who didn’t have a clue about what I was going to major in or have concrete future goals. College application season was stressful; I remember hearing my friends and classmates discuss their own long-term plans—some wanted to go to medical school, others had plans for graduate school or dream jobs they aspired to attain. On the other hand, I barely had any clue of what I wanted to study, much less what my future career held for me. I couldn’t picture a specific “goal” or “passion.” Rather, I felt as if I wanted to do everything—explore different paths before settling on a field of study that seemed right for me.

The linguistics & cog sci project room

Now, two years later, I’m a rising sophomore in college, and I’m happy to say that I can identify areas of interest with newfound clarity. One amazing aspect of attending a liberal arts school is that I’m not locked into one specific field of study, so I can explore as many academic paths as I wish. In the last two years, I ended up discovering that I’m interested in philosophy, psychology, and even a little bit of anthropology. There’s something really fascinating about learning how the inner neurological workings of our minds shape our own identities and personhoods. I discovered that I learn best in interdisciplinary environments, so I’m hoping to major (most likely) in cognitive science and let my intuition decide what happens next. Cognitive science is a vast field of study, so, even within the major, I still have the ability to explore multiple topics of interest.

path through campus, covered by treesI sometimes get asked what I plan to do with my degree once I graduate, and, to be honest, I still don’t know. At this point, I still cannot picture a dream job or streamlined career path—and that’s okay. Starting from the moment we apply to college to the day we graduate, there exists a lot of pressure on us students to know exactly what we want to do with our lives. But much of the time, seventeen and eighteen year olds are just starting to discover themselves—there’s no shame in being unsure or undecided. As cliché as it sounds, wherever the destination is, remember that you’ll get there eventually, so make sure you also enjoy the journey.