“Nobody Knows Where They Might End Up…”

If you’re as much of a Grey’s Anatomy fan as I am, I’m sure you’ll recognize the title words of this post. Nobody knows where they might end up – I believe this can resonate with people of any age group, but particularly college students. College can be one of the most exciting, challenging, and stressful times in one’s life. The pressure to succeed and be on the “right” path can be overbearing. We may make mistakes and find our lives to be totally different from what we planned or expected.

Katie and her Chicken
Katie training her chicken for Little I

So sit down, take a few deep breaths, and listen to me when I say that everything is going to be okay. It is more than acceptable for your plans for your time in college to not turn out as you had anticipated.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I have always wanted to be a veterinarian, and a variety of internships and volunteer experiences throughout high school to the present have solidified my desire to follow that career path. I began my freshman year at UConn as a dedicated student ready to take on any challenge – I was my high school class salutatorian, had a strong work ethic, and was totally sure nothing was going to get in the way of graduating early and attending veterinary school. As I continued through college, I started losing motivation and began more tangibly struggling with mental illness. Time flew by and before I knew it I was placed on academic probation in the Spring of 2015. I felt lost and devastated; I feared that I had completely jeopardized my future career and goals. Fast-forward to the present: I made the Dean’s List in the Fall 2015 semester, I retook some classes to improve my GPA, and I have postponed my veterinary school applications until the next cycle. As a senior graduating in December, these and other experiences along with the support of my advisors, professors, and friends have truly shown me that it is okay to be on a different path than your original intentions, as long as you are headed in the same direction.

Katie and her Friends
Katie and her support system – her friends

So, what about you? Are you feeling weighed down by past mistakes or freaking out because you are uncertain of where your future lies? Again, I ask you to take a deep breath and try to relax. You are not alone. If you find your plans have changed, there are a few things you can do. First and foremost, maintain your support system: friends, advisors/professors, mentors, and classmates. I have found it is incredibly beneficial to have both emotional and professional support systems. These people can guide you in the personal and career directions you want to be and assist you in staying on track. Secondly, seek help in the areas you need. If you think you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues like I am, Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS) offers different support resources. If you are struggling academically, don’t be afraid to speak with your professors or teaching assistants. The Academic Achievement Center (AAC) offers workshops and individual coaching to help improve study habits, exam preparation, time management, etc. If you need career-related assistance, the Center for Career Development (CCD) can help you. Finally, try not to be afraid of what the future holds. There are so many careers and job opportunities in the world that you are bound to find one.

Don’t worry, you’ve got this.