October 10, 2011

I Feel Like I Made the Wrong Choice

The first year was fun; it was just like high school. The second year was fun too. The third year started to get irritating and now I have no life.  The more I think about it, the more I feel like I made the wrong choice by choosing college. The assignments are arbitrary but time consuming, the class material is nothing new and some of the students are frequently as informed as the professors. It’s unnecessarily stressful and meaningless and primarily a business.


I want to be a researcher, but I feel college has poorly prepared me for this occupation. In an effort to make us more “well rounded” it has limited our usefulness. Instead of developing a collection of skills that may be useful in the history field we are practically turned into one-trick ponies. Our degrees are so limiting when they should be opening opportunities for us.  I am disappointed that a history degree does not even touch on archiving, artifact conservation, transcription, or writing history.  Shouldn’t we be prepared for things we might encounter in history-based occupations?  Instead we have to pay extra money and spend more time to develop these skills in other ways.  

Not only do I spend a majority of my time on meaningless school related tasks but I see all of the things that I can’t do because I chose college instead. I wish I had more time to spend with my family and friends. I see the beautiful works of art, costumes, and writings of my friends and wish I just stayed home. I do these things when I can, but it is slow going. I feel like I am never accomplishing anything and have nothing to be proud of. College is pretty monomaniacal; I wish I could develop my other talents and explore my other interests too.  

Then I think of all of the things I can’t do because I have student loans.  It is my goal in life to travel and do volunteer work. But, by the time my student loans are paid off, I will probably be too established in one area to pick up my life and move frequently.

Many people talk about the great experiences that they had in college but I haven’t had a particularly enriching college experience. I also think that if I had $5,000+ to spend each year on great experiences, I would wager that I could probably come up with some pretty enriching experiences. I do love history and researching but did I make the right choice? These sacrifices are the things that no one ever tells you about and unfortunately, I won't know for sure whether I made the right choice until years after I graduate. 

***The photos were from a recent trip to Valley Forge National Historic Park which was part of a college assignment but was welcome because it gave Andy and I some time to hang out and spend some time outside, which college hasn't been allowing a lot of time for.         


  1. Stephanie Ann, I didn't go to college for the exact reasons you are stating here. The biggest reason for not to go, however, was because of the extra money-making classes one has to take - classes that have absolutely nothing to do with your chosen field (hence the name "money-making classes"). My oldest son, 23, is also going to college and feeling exactly the same way as well.
    You're not alone.

  2. Perhaps you should consider a college that is a better fit for you. Its never too late to transfer. I know that my college experience was very hands on, with internships required all four years. I had mentors in my degree program who not only helped me for four years, they found me employment and still remain friends today. There are many schools that don't require "fluff" classes. I not only loved my college, I continue to give back even now- 25 years later.

  3. It's all baby steps. Don't be impatient and don't give it up.

    College is a place where you can find a specific direction to where you want to take your research.

    I agree with Heather above...maybe consider a college that is a better fit for you.

    You may not realize it now, but that meaningless and arbitrary stuff will make it easier for you in the long run. Even in research, you must go through a bunch of meaningless and arbitrary stuff to make the connection. It will come together in the end.

  4. Will be praying for you, Stephanie! If you need someone to talk to, I'll be at Cedar. Just e-mail me <3

    Love and Blessings,

  5. I'm praying for you,my friend. I miss your smiling face at work.

  6. I feel the same way. I am also in my third year of college, also a history major, and feeling pretty lost in all the chaos. I have to work two jobs in order to afford rent and food, and now that the semester is really digging in with assignments, its getting pretty tough. I am very lucky not to have to take out loans, but I wish I had the freedom not to work and to focus on classes alone. :(

    To Heather: Yes, there is a point when its too late to transfer, since each time you transfer schools you lose credits that dont match up with the new school's curriculum. I lost six credits transferring into my current school...thats almost two thousand dollars worth, at 300/credit hour! And the school I currently attend is one of the more affordable in this state!

  7. Thanks so much for your comments and thoughts, they really mean a lot to me. I do feel like I'm missing out on a lot but I do have no other choice than to push through.

  8. I understand your pain. I'm in college myself, and to be honest, I'm only there to get the piece of paper. I learn more on my own than I do in the classroom...for instance, I'm an Animal Science Major, but haven't once in 3 years touched an animal. In less than a year of doing my own volanteer work, I helped a giraffe give birth, learned the basics of horse leg and foot care, gave numerous vaccinations to exotic animals, and helped train and rehabilitate exotic animals. Luckily though, I have no student loans, for all my wasted time. I wish you the best, and I hope you can make the most out of the cards dealt for you. You seem like the kind of woman that can conquer any obstacle.

  9. Whoever said that college would be the best time of your life was wrong. It might have been the best time for some people, but I hated most of college and found a lot of it to be a waste of time. But the reality is that if you want to get a better job, then you need advanced education. (At least before our economy turned downhill.) Social mobility in America has mostly come through education (which is better than no social mobility at all, although now that education is becoming more of a business, I'm not sure how much of this remains true).

    I also think that undergraduate college is harder if you are a little older and already have a life outside of school. It makes all of the time-wasting classes and tasks even more frustrating.

    I considered transferring, but at a point, it becomes too much of a time and money drain to be beneficial. Is there a program through your school that lets you take classes at other institutions? Or that lets you fill requirements outside of the classroom? The only way I got through college was by taking classes at other schools.

    Push through! Don't think that you're alone in feeling this frustration. It's hard to be smart and thoughtful yet stuck in an institution that's designed more to make money and earn reputation than to help you learn and grow. Just try to make time for things that really seem worthwhile and give you pleasure.

    If it means anything, I remember planning on going to college together and sharing a dorm room and having walls of books. And I still wish that college had ended up that way.

  10. Thanks Maggie and Chloe.

    It's getting much harder now that I have no time at all to do the things I love or spend time with the people I care about. I like when people say "You have to make time." I could and did make time before, now there is no room at all.

  11. Stephanie I have to heartily say I agree with you, college does take up so much time for classes that have nothing to do with our majors and spending all this money when you hardly learn anything about the vocation you are studying seems pointless. I will be praying for you in this time and as Bethany said we will be at Ceder Creek.

    God bless!

  12. Hi! I just discovered your site and your blog (and I will be adding it to my blog reader!)

    Anyway, I wanted to encourage you to persevere, possibly explore a different school for your history major, and make a suggestion to think about a master's in Library Science to increase your research skills and possibly even your marketability? I realize this means more student loans, but I'd like to share my story with you :-)

    I have been crafting since I was young (grew up in 4-H), I've been a CW reenactor since mid high school, and I was also introduced to computer programming in high school. After graduation, I had no guidance for a life or career fit to my personality, and was "forced" into computers (programming and engineering) because of familial pressure to succeed (by THEIR definition). I hated those 5 years of undergrad, but I made it through. After a few years in the real world, I finally figured out what *I* wanted to do with my life: help others find the knowledge and information they want for their lives, which led me to Library Science. I did 1 year on-line at a school three states away with every intention to move there after last school year. That program ended up being a poor fit for me, so I transferred to a local program (still ALA accredited) and am LOVING it! I never considered myself a research person, but now I am loving doing research for papers in not only library science, but I am pulling on my crafting as research topics to exercise the skills I'm learning. (This is a pathfinder project on spinning and fiber that I did for Reference Class last year, and I will be adding a pathfinder for knitting for Reference Class this year.)

    I feel for you in a world where hobbies are so much cooler than a career, and I hope this can help you with ideas for how you can combine your hobbies and career in a way that make sense for you.

    Good Luck! (and sorry for the long post :-O)

  13. Unfortunately, many are coming to the same conclusions that you are. Even large companies are saying that the students coming out of college are not as well prepared as they had been lead to believe by the colleges. I assisted teaching in the public school, taught in private schools, stated teaching in an online university and saw that the curriculum was teaching passive learners, not active learners.

    The rhetoric in the curriculum is designed to teach by rote methods (repetition from memory without attention to meaning). It is for this reason more than 50% of students drop out of college before obtaining their degree (according to a UCLA study in the 80’s). The sad part is this same study went on to say of those 50% less than 25% ever find a job in the field of their education.

    It is for these reasons we home schooled our children and used methods that simulated their reason, their ability to solve problems. Both of our children were doing college level work by the time they were 14. It was not because they were super intelligent, it was because they were allowed to learn naturally with the bent of their interest. The information they collected was relevant to such.

    At one time, the interest of the student drove the selection of classes for obtaining a degree. Not long ago a friend of my son, went to college to get a degree in mechanics, he had to take a humanities class and pass it before he could go on to learning anything about airplane engines. He was in college for 2 years and never touched an engine. He dropped out and sought other methods to learn.

    The colleges use to teach by apprenticeship, paring up teachers that mastered skills with students of the same interest. But, then, colleges like medicine became big business, making money became the bottom line, instead of the process of producing a product of mastering skills. A “well rounded” student became their agenda, instead of a well-prepared student for the task and purpose of a set of skills.

    We have a broken system of education; it is why trade schools are starting to get more students, but not the respect of colleges yet, which is sad. I pray you find an individual who will take you on as an apprentice and teach you want you need to know for your life’s passion. Though this may not be a popular stand, the Bible says when a nation turns its back on God, wisdom goes through the streets to find a place to reside and can find none. The enemy of our soul is not so stupid that he is not able to subtly produce his original intent, “Did God really say…?”

    Knowledge begins with the fear of God, when that was removed from the public schools and the colleges; well we are reaping the results. May the Lord above help us to return to biblical common sense.
    Mrs. J.

  14. At least you didn't devote your life to being a starving artist who may only gain recognition after you die :) Look on the bright side.

    As you move on in life you'll find that college is an experience you'll be glad to have, because even if you don't draw much from it academically, it'll teach you what your intellectual limits are and help figure out who you are right now and who you want to be.

    True, college is downright torture at times, it can make you cry, sweat and bleed. But once it's over, it's over. You'll be tossed out into the world and have to use what you learned to build a better life for yourself, something that no one can help you do. Your parents and family can only support you until they're gone. One day you will be on your own, like it or not.

    At the end of the day what will matter more is *not* how popular you were in school, what size clothes you fit into, or how many friends you had or didn't have, or whether you had a significant other or not. No one will care about that stuff. Things which seem like such a big deal in college are trivial looking back on them. What will matter is what you learned and how you used it.

    And whatever bad stuff happens in your life, look at it this way: in 200 years, what will it matter?

    Do what you can right NOW to get through it and the rest will sort itself out.

  15. Stephanie Ann,

    I discovered your blog and loved it, so I went back to the beginning and began reading (primarily the parts on colonial history). Several posts back, you announced that you took yourself off Facebook. I started to reply to say: Three cheers for you! Instead, I read on and came to your message above. This time, I cannot just continue on without commenting.

    Many replies have revealed that you are not alone in how you feel (assuming you continue to feel today as you did the day you wrote the above post). I am amazed that in your youthfulness you obviously think outside the proverbial box. I'm impressed. You see the bigger picture. That is a gift, and I suspect you have a very rich (though possibly frustrating) life ahead of you. It is not easy to swim against the flow, and its not easy to go with the flow when you see the world more clearly than others.

    At age 65 now, my experiences includes dropping out of college many years ago because the same shortcomings you expressed existed back then too. The difference is that back then, it was possible to advance without a degree. That is becoming more difficult today. I am very pleased with the progress I have made without having college as a millstone around my neck. You too can do it, but it will be much easier with that piece of paper.

    Today, you need a piece of paper, even if the paper is not worth what it cost. The only thing a degree seems to mean today is that the person stuck with it and finished a task. In itself, that is not a bad thing.

    I support the idea of doing one's best, but not necessarily doing one's best at everything. Some things do not deserve your best. If your degree falls short due to the broken system, then the degree does not deserve your best. For instance: some employers just want a degree even if it is simply in underwater basket weaving. Other employers care about the kind of degree but not so much that you have all A's. Some employers hesitate to hire the summa cum laude, because they know the smartest ones are likely to stay a while and move on to bigger and better. My best jobs throughout my life came through volunteerism, where I met people who learned what I could do and employed me over people with degrees because they knew what I could do.

    My point is that your best education is going to come through experiences and the people you know, not through a college degree. Keep on reading subject matter that interests you, volunteer at places that do what you want to do and that will teach you or that have people who can point you in the direction of your choice. Find time to invest in experiences that challenge and delight you. Get the piece of paper, even if it is in underwater basket weaving. (I assume you know I'm being metaphorical.) For fluff classes, think about taking some of them online, so you can adjust your classwork around your more important challenges. Work harder at the classes that will be useful and just pass the others.

    Your community will have one or more Historic Landmarks Commissions as well as Historical Societies. Their meetings are open to the public and the people associated with these organizations are experts from many of the fields in which you have expressed interest. And they know people. They are looking for young people like you and know that not very many people are like you. If you regularly attend a few of their meetings, I suspect you will meet people who can steer you to those who can guide you in learning archiving, artifact conservation, transcription, writing history, and more.

    I clearly hear what you are saying, and I know that the costly degree is not worth what it costs. There are, however, other much better ways to get where you want to go.

    Joyce Cole, Founder
    Reliving History, Inc.


Tell me what you think!

Copyright © 2008-2020 Stephanie Ann Farra. All rights reserved.

All materials posted on this site are subject to copyrights owned by Stephanie Ann Farra. Any reproduction, retransmissions, or republication of all or part of any document found on this site is expressly prohibited, unless the author has explicitly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit, or republish the material. All other rights reserved.