The deadline for re-admission is soon, but...
June 28, 2014 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I still have absolutely no clue what I want to do. More inside.

I'm a 21 y/o male still living at home, who was enrolled at a regional branch of a major state university, when last year I had decided to take a year off from my graphic design major. I realized that I didn't enjoy any of it whatsoever and that I chose the wrong major to begin with without any sort of backup. My sophomore year was a complete mess, as I had withdrawn from almost all of my studio classes and I felt incredibly frustrated and upset at the fact that all my friends seemed to have their careers planned out. And yes, I met with a career counselor several times but I didn't make much progress.

There was nothing more demoralizing than going to campus everyday with absolutely zero sense of purpose. I was tired almost constantly, I couldn't focus in any of my classes, I had trouble completing assignments, and I got to the point of having emotional breakdowns. So when I had decided to step away from school for a year (I gave myself a time table), it really seemed like the right thing to do to give myself an opportunity to get my act together. I've spent the entire time working full-time in retail to save up for tuition and to get out of the house everyday. Otherwise I've really withdrawn socially from everyone. I spent many nights taking online career quizzes, and purchasing self-help books which admittedly I haven't had the energy to read. It's been a struggle.

Well my one year is pretty much up, and the deadline to re-apply for the fall is this Tuesday. What scares me is that I still have zero idea as to what I want to do. I don't have any passions, nor many interests either - I feel really empty all the time. I try to think but there's just nothing there. I get flustered when people ask what I'm going to school for and I mumble something along the lines of business just to have an answer when I really don't.

I really want to finish up school and get a degree for sure. But a part of me just isn't there. Help?
posted by Urban_Painter to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Re-apply right now. Decide later. This way your options still remain open just in case you decide to go back.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:22 PM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Seconding hal_c_on. But you sound depressed. Have you considered using some of your savings/income for therapy? Are you eating nutritious food and getting enough exercise? Might meditation help you?
posted by carmicha at 12:35 PM on June 28, 2014

It sounds like there's something you're not telling us, possibly something you're not admitting to yourself. You have plenty of options, but you're constructing a crisis - as an alibi? Is it something you don't want to do, or something you want to be 'forced' into doing? What is it you want us to authorise, and why?

I might be talking bollocks.
posted by Segundus at 12:51 PM on June 28, 2014

Sounds like you think you're wasting your design with that degree. Do something else.
posted by rr at 1:00 PM on June 28, 2014

There was nothing more demoralizing than going to campus everyday with absolutely zero sense of purpose. I was tired almost constantly, I couldn't focus in any of my classes, I had trouble completing assignments, and I got to the point of having emotional breakdowns.

I don't have any passions, nor many interests either - I feel really empty all the time. I try to think but there's just nothing there.

This does sound like a health problem, to me. I've gone though similar. Antidepressants have had by far the greatest impact on these issues, and I think you might want to look into them, too.

First thing is that you should reapply to school. The costs of not reapplying are higher than the benefits. Make yourself do it this weekend, even if you're exhausted and don't feel like it.

The next thing depends on whether you have insurance or not. If you do, then you should get a behavioral health evaluation through your insurance. If it's an HMO, they might have a center that you can go to, or otherwise you might have to call your GP for a referral. Even if it's sort of complicated to do, as in, you have to actually go to your GP for a check-up before she'll give you a referral, make yourself do it.

Based on what you've said here, I would guess that your evaluation will likely end in a referral to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will be able to prescribe medications and also where you should go from there (likely therapy, exercise, the usual suspects). Then you can see how you feel after being on the medication and can start talking to a therapist about the more specific things that you should do (how you might tackle this or that area of your life).

Once you have more of an idea of what might be going on with you (if you are depressed, if something else is up, etc) and how you want to handle school in the fall, you can make an appointment with someone from student affairs. She should be able to walk you through how you can deal with things like worrying about your major, etc. She might also send you to someone else, like an academic counselor, to work those things out.

It's OK, it's dealable. One step at a time, though. Start by making sure not to shut doors in your own face (like with the readmission), and then move on to getting help with the physical problems (the exhaustion, the emptiness -- that's where the GP/evaluation/psychiatrist come in), then the general lifestyle considerations (do you want to go back to school full time, what careers might interest you -- that can be good stuff to talk to a therapist about), then the school worries and administrative issues (what would changing your major entail, etc -- that's when you talk to admin at school).
posted by rue72 at 1:07 PM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Everyone gets depression in college. It should be mentioned in the Damn brochure! 'ree-book and take core classes for a semester, in conjunction with an anti-depresssant if indicated, or therapy.

Not everyone has it all figured out, most folks are going through the motions, they too are depressed.

College isn't about the classes you take, it's about connecting with others and having your mind opened. At some point you'll figure out that some classes are more fun than others and you can major in that, graduate with a degree in it, and then you can leave school and get a job.

You'll discover that work can be fun because you work with fun people. You'll get a partner, and have fun there. Life is fun, and it doesn't have to all hinge on how you earn your dough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:09 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with the idea of getting all the core curriculum out of the way if you can manage classes while seeking treatment for what sounds a bit like depression.

A LOT of people don't get their career figured out until later. What I do isn't even OFFERED as an undergrad degree almost anywhere.
posted by salvia at 2:18 PM on June 28, 2014

Here's my advice for people in college who don't know what they want to do: nobody really knows what they want to do in college. And most of the people who seem to really know will end up changing their minds before they settle down in some career for the long haul. Or they won't change their mind but they'll have a major midlife crisis situation where they're asking themselves not what they should do but what should they have done instead. The point is: this is something everyone struggles with, and that most people struggle with to some degree all their lives.

So my advice is that you don't have to decide what to do forever, you just have to decide what to do next. And what to do next should always be some sort of progression toward something, even if you aren't sure what it is yet. So I would absolutely re-enroll in school. I think spending another year in retail is only going to make you feel stagnant and more depressed.

And here is my advice on what to study in college, for what it's worth: get a STEM field degree with the full track of calculus, chem and physics. With a few exceptions, there's pretty much nothing you can do with an art or humanities degree, career-wise, that you can't do with a science degree - but there's plenty you can do with a STEM field degree that you can't with an art or humanities degree. You can still be a designer with a STEM degree. You can still be a writer or an artist or a bartender or business administrator or whatever with a STEM degree. But later on if you decide you want to try something else, like computer science or renewable energy or medicine or physical therapy or whatever, you'll have a lot more options with a STEM undergraduate degree.

Also therapy, natch.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:36 PM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you're in a good place. I don't think you can figure what you want to do, or what you're most genuinely interested in when you're not in a good place, it just doesn't work. I tried many times and always failed. Maybe you can just go back and do all your gen eds and take all the courses that spark your curiousity and see where that takes you rather than determining your major beforehand. That's what I wish I did, but I went into college decided I was an art major and didn't learn until after that's not how it works. College is where you go to discover your interests, not where you go only after you've found it. But you seem in a bad place overall. You're still young enough not to hurry college or get stressed out about it. Maybe work on improving your life in other multiple ways so when you go back to school it's not totally miserable. It's not supposed to be miserable (well I guess there are some people who inherently hate schooling, but that doesn't sound like what's necessarily going on with you).
posted by Blitz at 5:56 PM on June 28, 2014

Look, I went to college when I should have waited. I know it's anti everything you're taught in high school, but college isn't some logical next step just cause. It sucks to graduate and no gives a shit about your soft skills. It sucks to have college sizeed debt and a minimum wage job.

So I always encourage people to wait. Not everyone is depressed in college, or figures it out, or has it become a positive experience. You sound depressed. Going to college with an untreated, unmonitored mental illness is a terrible idea that can have very long consequences.

I think you should apply actually, but with the caveats you won't actually attend until you figure out the health aspect, and hopefully the sense of being lost will naturally dissipate.
posted by Aranquis at 7:42 PM on June 28, 2014

I felt incredibly frustrated and upset at the fact that all my friends seemed to have their careers planned out.

Plans are not predictions. Real life is not like grade school and high school with a straight forward progression. Your friends can plan to be journalists, artists and web designers but very few of them will end up with entry level jobs in line with their majors. Liberal arts education is also not vocational training. Whatever jobs people end up with when graduating, be they barista gigs or insurance or whatever, your peers are likely to change careers an average of four times in their working lives.

All of this is to say that choosing an undergrad major is not what it looks like when you are trying to choose an undergrad major. Go talk to an advisor and find out what you can do with your existing credits to get out a) as fast as possible b) with the least amount of debt possible c) with the piece of paper. You don't have to be passionate about whatever path that is but you do need to be able to see it to completion. In other words, this exercise is about the piece of paper. Do not be deterred from completing that mission.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:44 AM on June 30, 2014

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