Beating the Winter Blues as a Sunny State Student

Source: http://community.blogs.wesleyan.edu/tag/snow/
Source: http://community.blogs.wesleyan.edu/tag/snow/

If you’ve already been accepted into college, you’re probably thinking, “What now?” Well, you have to complete the FAFSA, continue your schoolwork, and daydream about what your college experiences will be like while doing so. However, one facet of college life that students often overlook is the climate of the state they’ll be moving to in just a few months. I was one of those students and I wish I could’ve prepared a lot more for Connecticut’s climate during summer in Florida. Below is a list of ways you can beat the winter blues when coming from a sunny state, whether it be Florida, California, or Texas, and how to plan ahead – and what to expect – for the climate in a timely manner.
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Majorly Conflicted: How I Chose To Be A Triple Major

jessica_jordan_majorI didn’t know what I wanted to major in when I started college, but I had a lot of wild ideas. I knew I wanted to make time for all the subjects I was interested in that I hadn’t had the opportunity to take in high school. I’d finished all my high school’s Latin courses by the second semester of my sophomore year, and was eager to resume my studies, so that was one of the first courses I selected for my first semester at college. Similarly, I had been unable to participate in any kind of theater since middle school, and eagerly signed up for pretty much the only theater class freshman can get into – the one where we have to do the department’s grunt work. I rounded out my choices with a course on Roman Law and an Introduction to Archaeology course that focused on South Africa. Since Wesleyan has no required classes, I was free to choose classes that I was genuinely interested in, and I pretty much figured that I would just major in all the departments that I was currently taking classes in – Theater, Classical Civilization, and Archaeology.

I blame this over-enthusiasm on the fact that at my high school there had been very little room for electives. For five years – since the eighth grade when we began taking some courses that counted towards our high school GPA – I had been solely focused on excelling in every course that I was required to take, no matter what the subject. I knew that making good grades was my ticket to a good college, but, believe it or not, I never put much thought into what I would do once I got there – there wasn’t time for that. I was pretty unprepared to start picking and choosing the courses that would (at least in my freshman mind) begin to determine my entire future.

And silly though it may seem that in my first weeks of college I decided to be a triple major…I did indeed end up graduating with three majors, though that doesn’t mean my plans didn’t change a lot during the next four years. By the beginning of sophomore year, I had decided to drop the Archaeology major, my research leading me to believe that it was rather unusual for a school to offer undergraduate degrees in archaeology at all – it was more typical to major in Classics or History, then later complete a graduate degree in archaeology. So I was feeling pretty good about my life choices when, on the very last day of a writing class I took on a whim (and I mean a whim…I don’t even remember making the decision to enroll), my professor told me that I should be an English major.

It was as if someone had shaken me awake. OF COURSE I should be an English major. I was good at writing, I loved books and close reading – but I had never even considered it before that moment. Unlike the subjects I eagerly signed up for at the beginning of my freshman year, English wasn’t something that I felt like I was missing out on after high school – I’d had enough of essays and dead poets! I thought that everyone expected me to be an English major since I was such an avid reader, and so it was the one thing I steered clear of at college for a really long time. But that wasn’t a good reason not to give something I was so obviously interested in a chance, and I’m very grateful now that fortune gave me a push in the direction that I needed (especially since I’ve just finished applying to a number of English Ph.D. programs!).

Being the stubborn person that I am, I refused to drop either of the majors to which I had already poured so much work, but instead simply added on English as, yes, a third major. In no way, shape, or form was completing three majors simple, especially since I was a bit late in starting the English requirements, but it ended up being the right choice for me. Each of my majors was vital in shaping my college experiences and relationships, from my freshman year Latin professor becoming my advisor and helping me gain admittance to my study abroad program on a full scholarship to my work in the costume shop which became such a big part of my college life – though it’s certainly not something I would recommend for everyone.

If I had any advice to give on choosing a major, it would be to learn from my greatest strength and my greatest weakness in choosing a major: Don’t be afraid to try the things you’ve always wanted to – and don’t worry if they don’t turn out exactly as you’d expect. At the same time, don’t disregard an area of interest just because it’s something you were good at in high school. If you want to leave old passions behind and create a new identity for yourself, that’s fine – but make sure you’re leaving them behind because you are no longer interested in them, and not just because they’re old. You’ll probably change your mind a few times – almost everyone does – but I bet you’ll probably end up right where you’re supposed to.

Jessica Jordan, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13

Errrrr…Give me a second please!

“May I take your order?” “Errrrr…Give me a second please!”

shu_1

(courtesy to NBC TV series Hannibal, season 1 and 2)

Now picture yourself dining in a restaurant that serves unfamiliar cuisine. You can read the menu (with full descriptions). There are also other customers around you, some are frequent visitors. You are also allowed to visit the kitchen to see the masters behind the delicious food. Which dishes would you choose for dinner? You noticed this restaurant has a special feature: you are allowed to sample a great many dishes before the server takes your order. The best way is probably to take a sampler platter, and taste all the interesting things on the menu. Be aware, too much sampling can lead to a full stomach, which leaves no room for the main courses.

Choosing a major is just like taking a savory journey in this lovely restaurant (but with a lot more time to sample the food. In my case, I had a year and a half. First, you can think about the subjects that interest you, and take a look at the course catalog (the menu). If you are not so sure, no worries, freshman year is here to the rescue! There are usually wide ranges of interesting classes to choose from for freshman.

Be brave, and take a few classes that look intriguing or you never heard of (you are usually allowed to drop a class at the beginning of the semester without penalty).

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(Wesmap)

The above figure is a real life “menu” offered by Wesleyan University. It shows all the possible majors you can choose from. There are three major categories, excluding certificates and interdisciplinary programs. Under each category, there are roughly more than ten majors (well, Arts and Humanities alone has more than twenty). Under each major, there are numerous classes, and their numbers are changing constantly from semester to semester.

Excited, but befuddled? Me too.

Therefore, one of my most grateful college experiences was that I didn’t start college with an assigned major. I didn’t know what to major in anyway (look at all the options listed on the menu!). My school (Wesleyan University) gave me a year and half to explore my options, and declare a major (or majors) at the spring semester of my sophomore year. If I was not ready, I could have more time. And of course, dropping a major is allowed. All I am trying to say is, colleges usually have a flexible system, give students enough freedom to explore their interests, and (hopefully) maximize the chance to find the most suitable major(s).

Now here comes the big question: how do you choose a major (or majors) in college? I would like to share some of my experiences and hopefully can make your life a little easier when the time comes.

Upon graduation, I gained a double-major degree in Chemistry, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry (MB&B) with a Biophysics certificate, and a minor in German Studies. During the college years, I thought about declaring majors in Art Studio, History, Film, etc. Trust me; this only looks like a lot, because it only involved a lot of thinking and planning (not too much action). I was allowed and greatly encouraged to take a broad range of classes in my freshman year, and I had an advisor who truly cared about me. My first year schedule was roughly as follow: Personal Identity and Choice (Philosophy), Drawing (Studio Art), Intro to Biology, Intro to Chemistry (Science), Chamber Music (Music), and English Essay (English). I was going to take more classes (I wanted more than 4 classes per semester), but my advisor, Professor Randall, stopped me at all cost. I thank her eternally. Taking 4 full-credit classes each semester is just the right amount of work I can handle properly. There are always more things to learn than just classes, especially as a freshman.

Taking a class or two is just like sampling the major these classes belong to. After my first year, I learned that my interest lies heavily in my science classes and art classes. The problem was that both subjects demanded long hours spent in lab, library or studio. After a semester of trying to take gateway classes for both majors, talking to professors and academic advisors (masters in the kitchen), and upper classmen (frequent customers) who double-majored in both, I figured it was too hard for me to keep up. I went back to my advisor, and she said, “You can always take relevant classes if you are interested.” Giving up on a major doesn’t mean giving up on my interest.

When the time comes, I didn’t declare Art Studio major, but Chemistry and MB&B double-major (these two majors are closely related to each other). I felt like this was a better choice for me, for I could only take the art classes that interested me the most, without the frustration of fulfilling graduation requirements for the major. After the initial struggles, I learned my way around the system, as well as my limits. Throughout the years, I was always able to take classes I love outside my own majors. I let my interest guide me through the course map, and in my senior year, I surprisingly figured out the amount of German Studies classes I took gained me a minor in German Studies. Back in my freshman year, I never even thought about doing anything related to language.

This is how I found my majors. Hope my experience will give you some hints.

Bon Appetit!

Shu Zhang, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13

Admissions Officer Insight: Why Do We Partner With QuestBridge?

wesleyan

Admissions Officer Corner is a series of posts written by college admissions officers at QuestBridge partner colleges.

 

Two days before I graduated from Wesleyan, I got a call from one of the Associate Deans of Admission with an offer of employment. It was more than a week after my last college class, several days after I had finished my final exams and papers, and 24 hours before my parents, brother and grandparents were set to arrive on campus. I was elated — graduating with a job offer is pretty sweet — but suddenly faced a huge decision. Was this just a job, or was it the right job? Would I be able to use the skills and knowledge I had spent the past four years developing? Would I be able to continue learning? Would I be able to make a real contribution?
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I’m Going On An Adventure!

adventureIn a beautiful September of 2009, I stood in front of Clark, my freshman dorm building, for the first time of my life. It was my first time living away from home, and I felt exuberant for my new semester. As I was staring at fellow new students coming in and out of the dorm building, I just couldn’t wait to start living here. This was also the exact moment the first real problem hit me: how to move all my luggage into my room. I had two large suitcases and a huge backpack. Luckily, I was assigned on the first floor, just by the staircases, and a few upper classmen helped me settle in. It was a real pain moving everything in and taken everything out in my room. I was forced, yet gratefully, to learn my first lesson of traveling alone: never pack more than needed. Later, I learned from my upper classmen, that the campus had tag sales every semester. Most of the non-essential or essential items can be found at those. As the freshman class comes in, the senior class graduates, and people love to recycle. I got two lamps (in perfect condition), a mirror, a dozen hangers, and a laundry basket, almost for free. They have served me loyally during my college years, and have been passed down to my lower classmen. In short, just pack the essentials, and the rest can come later.

The other things I realized after moving to Wesleyan were that I was expected to be more independent and take on a lot more responsibilities than I’d ever imagined. Of course, the first thing that jumped into my mind was “Freedom!” The first semester of college was like a door suddenly swung open, and waves of thrilling things kept washing me over. To keep myself standing in the tides, I would need a lot more skills, such as self-control, time management, etc. After many years of learning, I gradually acquired these skills.

There were so many “first-time-experiences” waiting for me in my freshman year. I used a clothes dryer and the campus ID card paying system for the first time. I had to figure it out with a hallmate. I still remember the two of us standing awkwardly in front of the laundry machine, trying to figure out the difference between the bottoms of “regular” and “bright color”. I had a roommate for the first time. The residential life had us sign a roommate agreement. It seemed silly when we sat down to read over the agreement, but it made sense afterwards. We learned from each other, learned to share, and grew together. It was a great time.

Moving away from home for college was a big step outside my comfort zone, but the magic did happen. The new environment tested my limit. This was a great opportunity to discover myself, to build new bonds, to broaden my horizons and to challenge my belief. I learned to use different perspectives to view things and make decisions. “Independence” and “responsibility” were not merely elusive concepts anymore. They gradually grew flesh and bones, became my concrete reality. I may have been far away from home, but I formed new roots, and learned to extend them further. That was a priceless adventure for starters, and I am still traveling.

Shu Zhang, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13

There’s No Place Like 800 Miles From Home

Questbridge Post 4

After my college acceptances came in, I had the option of two extremes: I could go to schools nearby—The University of Tennessee Knoxville, twenty minutes away, or Maryville College, a liberal arts school inexplicably in my tiny conservative town—or I could go to Wesleyan, 800 miles from home. Looking back, it seems almost insane that I chose to go to Wesleyan, knowing that the distance would be insurmountable from both ends. I would rarely be able to visit home, and my family would essentially never be able to visit me. The obstacle, of course, was not really distance, but money.

Many high school seniors are nervous about going to college far from home. After all, our parents are the center of our world from the time we are born until the time we graduate from high school—sometimes annoying, but always there with a plan and a hug and those soccer cleats you left at home. It’s a big adjustment for any teenager, but in reality, for a well-off or middle-class student, attending college two hours away or twelve hours away is relatively the same experience: you’re more likely to be able to go home for all school breaks and have your parents will be there for during Parent’s Weekend. For a student from a low-income background, the story is much different. During my time at Wesleyan, my mother was able to visit campus exactly twice—once to pick me up after freshman year ended, and once for graduation. My father only made it up to Connecticut once, to see me graduate. I never had a visitor to show around on Family Weekend, or to introduce to my hallmates and friends. This was not my parents’ choice. They simply could not afford to visit me.

For me, this immobility was the key defining factor of attending college far from home. Thanksgiving, Fall, and Spring Breaks were times of year I watched my friends, even ones from as far away as California, pack up and head back home, while I generally remained stranded on campus. This is simply another sacrifice low-income students often have to make if they want to attend prestigious universities. Because I participated in a Thanksgiving Parade with the marching band during my senior year of high school, the November after college graduation was the first Thanksgiving I had spent with my family in five years.  If someone had told me that was going to happen before I accepted Wesleyan’s offer of acceptance, I would have been terrified.

If you go to school far from home, you, too, are likely going to have to get used to being alone at times when you might otherwise have been with family. It is not as easy to share your triumphs and fears with the ones you love through technology, and sometimes when you need your family the most, they won’t be able to be there. That’s the bad news. The good news is that attending college far away from your hometown also opens a lot of opportunities for you to enjoy new kinds of experiences. I found that I was sometimes grateful not to be headed anywhere for Fall Break—it was so short that I was perfectly content to re-charge by watching Netflix in my room for four days and watch my jet-lagged hallmates wander in Sunday evening before classes began. Those Thanksgivings I missed with my family? I spent one with a friend’s family in Boston, where they rented out a dance hall filled with both music and tables of food to celebrate the holiday. I spent another watching a James Bond marathon with a different friend’s family in a nearby Connecticut town before making my way back to campus for an exciting adventure of trying to figure out how to get back inside my dorm without my key when everyone was gone and Public Safety was closed (Spoiler Alert: I knocked on a lot of windows). I spent another Thanksgiving in New York City, standing in the cold for hours and hours to watch the Macy’s Parade go by, and another in New Jersey, eating traditional Chinese cooking instead of green bean casserole and mashed potatoes.

There will probably be times that you feel lonely to be so far from home. But I promise that no matter how lonely you feel, you won’t ever actually be alone. The campus may seem quiet, and it may seem like every person you know has gone home except for you, but there are other students experiencing the same feelings all across campus—students who may not be able to afford to go home, like you, or international students, for whom a two or three-day break from classes isn’t even close to enough time to get home, or even students who don’t really have a home to go back to. There are other people in your same situation, and even if you don’t meet up with them while you’re stuck at school, it can be nice to know that they’re there. You will find people who refuse to let you be alone on holidays, who will bring you into their families and traditions. You will go on adventures you never expected, and learn to be independent just a little bit faster than everyone else you know. And, in this age of technology, home is only a phone call, a Skype date, or a Snapchat away.

Maybe you’re the first member of your family to go college, or the first to finish, but regardless of your circumstances, going to college will change your life—it’s meant to change your life, to make it better. Eight hundred miles may seem like a long way to be from home, but for me, and for some of you, it was only the first step.

Jessica Jordan, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13

Not Matching is Not the End of Your Story—It’s the Beginning

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Jessica at the QuestBridge National College Admissions Conference at Yale University — where it all began!

When I first heard of QuestBridge, I thought it was too good to be true. I was largely alone in figuring out the college application process, not because I didn’t have teachers or guidance counselors who would have been willing to answer my questions, but because I didn’t even know what kind of questions to ask. The QuestBridge flier seemed like it was written specifically for me, to help me escape from the life I was living into a better one. My mother spent more money than she could spare to drive me thirteen hours to a QuestBridge National Admissions Conference at Yale the summer after my junior year, where we heard for the first time about need-blind admission and began to believe that I could go to a top-tier school.

All that following fall I worked tirelessly on my applications, filled with both hope and desperation. When filling out the financial information, however, I ran into a serious complication—they asked for my father’s financial information. My father was an engineer who had been badly injured in a car accident when I was thirteen, causing a stroke that left him paralyzed on the left side of his body. He had been unable to work for several years, but had recently returned to work and was making money again—a lot more than my mother, even with his setbacks. The problem was that none of that money was coming to me. He was in a lot of debt from the time when he had been out of work, and I had recently turned eighteen—he didn’t feel that he had to pay for anything for me anymore. It had long been a spot of contention between him and my mother, one that I didn’t even begin to know how to navigate. But because I still had contact with him, I was required to list his income.

I’m sure I don’t have to linger on the effect this had on me. It seemed like everything I had only recently begun to believe was possible was slipping out of my hands. But I was able to navigate my way through it, and so will you. In the end, even though I didn’t match, I was still given a fairly generous financial aid package to Wesleyan, although I had to work and take out some loans to cover what my father wasn’t going to pay. Still, I made it, and so will you—don’t for a second doubt it. At this point in your life, you’ve been through an impossible amount already, and not Matching isn’t going to stop you from changing your future.

Now that you haven’t matched, you are going to have to think extremely carefully about your options. The first thing to remember is that you can still be offered a totally do-able financial aid package from schools you didn’t match with. Don’t panic! Not matching just means that you’re going to have to wait a little longer to know what you’re doing next year, and I know you’re tough enough for that. When your acceptance letters start coming in, that’s when you’ll have to make some choices. Besides hearing back from your QuestBridge schools, you may be offered strong financial aid to other schools. If you truly believe that you will thrive there, and will be able to use that education to reach whatever goals you have set forward for yourself in life, then don’t discount that offer just because other schools you’ve been accepted to have bigger names. Don’t let anyone tell you what the right path to higher education is for you.

Being a part of QuestBridge means that you already have something a lot of people don’t: belief that your mind, your hard work, and your perseverance, will better your life. That doesn’t change just because you don’t match. As I often remind myself while I’m filling out graduate school applications, you’ve already done the hard work. Keeping up your grades and excelling at academics while poor? That was the hard part. Applying, waiting, deciding—that’s the easy part, so try and enjoy the ride, even if there are a few bumps along the way.

Jessica Jordan, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13

Admissions Officer Insight: What We Look for in Your Application

Wes

Admissions Officer Corner is a series of posts written by college admissions officers at QuestBridge partner colleges

As a brand-new Assistant Dean of Admission here at Wes, I’m looking forward to my first “reading season.” Our admission process emphasizes a holistic review of the application, which means that we truly consider every piece of the application. Continue reading

Making Your On-Campus Job Work for You

Jessica_Jordan_post2Finding an on-campus job can be tricky, especially if you are a freshman. I remember that one of my first thoughts after unpacking my dorm room was, “I have got to get a job.” For most Quest students, it’s a fiscal reality that they will have to work during their time at college in order to pay their scholarship’s student contribution or afford basic necessities. It can be easy to panic and accept the first job that comes along, but if you take a deep breath and commit yourself to finding a job that’s a great fit for you, your work can be so much more than just a way to make money—it can help you make friends, teach you invaluable skills, and be a truly meaningful part of your college experience.

What you can do:

1. Check out your school’s work study job board.

Most schools have an online job board where students can browse available work-study positions. At Wesleyan, many of the positions were listed the summer before my freshman year started, so even though I had no real idea of what campus looked like (having visited only briefly once before), I could start trying to picture what part of my routine might look like. This is a really great jumping off point—for some of you it might be both the beginning and the end of your search—but remember that many jobs will not be posted until the school year has officially started, so check the board often for the most up-to-date listings.

2. Don’t get discouraged, and keep your eyes open.

After perusing Wesleyan’s job board for weeks before I moved into my dorm room, I had found a job that sounded perfect for me: assistant in the rare books room at the library. I was so desperate to get that job. I counted down the days until I would be able to turn in my application to the archives office. I could see myself in that job. I was perfect for that job! I dreamed about that job. And then I didn’t get it. I didn’t even come close to getting it. And then panic set in—I hadn’t applied to any other jobs, and many of the on-campus positions were filling up fast. I applied to several other jobs that were less exciting, but didn’t get any of them either. One rejection was even after what seemed to be a very successful interview, which was particularly crushing. By my second week on campus, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to survive there. What would I do if I couldn’t find a job?

I finally found my first job when I was walking through the library. A flyer was on the door of an office labeled “Interlibrary Loan” advertising for student workers willing to work mornings. I dropped off my application, the office manager asked me a couple of questions, and then she hired me on the spot. Not all of the jobs available on campus will be listed on the job board, so be sure to keep a look out for postings on notice boards or word-of-mouth opportunities. I worked at Interlibrary Loan for four years, and it was a great job, even if it wasn’t the one I dreamed about in the beginning.

3. If you’re not happy, don’t stop looking.

My job at Interlibrary Loan was okay—I pulled books from the shelves to send to other schools, processed book requests on the computer, prepared packages for mailing, etc.—but it wasn’t as exciting as I knew some other on-campus jobs could be. In my first semester at Wesleyan I took a theater class called Basic Production Techniques, where the coursework was comprised of assisting the department in different aspects of theater tech. We helped hang lights, we made props out of Papier-mâché, and did all other kinds of menial tasks. My favorite part of the class was when I got to help out in the Costume Shop, even though I knew next to nothing about sewing.

The Costume Shop, besides being a place where work I was interested in was happening, was also a happy place to be. The manager was friendly and the atmosphere was fun. We listened to the Harry Potter audio books while we worked and joked with each other. When I came back to Wesleyan after Christmas Break, I learned that a friend who was employed in the Costume Shop would not be returning to Wesleyan. In what is perhaps one of the boldest things I’ve ever done, I emailed the manager of the Shop and asked if I could have her job. He said yes, and that is one of the best things that happened to me during my time at Wesleyan.

I kept my job at Interlibrary Loan, but I greatly reduced my hours and started working more and more in the Costume Shop. Not only did I learn how to sew, by my senior year I had been promoted to student manager of the costume collection, which taught me countless useful skills that have served me well in my search for jobs after college. Most importantly, the Costume Shop is where I made one of my best friends from college—the manager who hired me! I can’t express how much my life at Wesleyan was enriched by working at the Costume Shop and by the friendship I found there. Working during college was a necessity for me, but luckily it turned into a wonderful experience rather than a burden.

It’s easy to feel bad about having to work while in school. After all, you are expected to perform on an equal level with your non-working peers even though you may have as much as 20+ extra hours of responsibilities a week. But if you don’t give up and are willing to work to find the right job for you, working doesn’t have to be a bad thing. While it’s true that most of you won’t become best friends with your boss from your work study job, you may very well meet others there who will either become good friends (vital to making it through college sane) or be good resources for when you want to get an internship or a post-graduation job. Don’t give up if you don’t find the perfect job the first week of school, and don’t be afraid to switch jobs if you find that your position is detracting from your experience rather than adding to it. There are lots of great on-campus jobs just waiting for you!

Jessica Jordan, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13

What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up?

to_doNow you are in college and you, most likely, are (or over) 18 years of age. In many countries, you are already considered an adult and seem entitled to do whatever adults can do. And… here comes the big question: what do you want to do?

This is a good and complicated question, and most likely, you will answer this question yourself in an indefinite amount of time, but it doesn’t mean you can’t start the thinking process. Actually, now is a perfect time to start thinking, and maybe do some initial planning as well.

If you entered college with a clear life-time goal, that’s great. You can probably start to accumulate and use all the means and resources to achieve the goal and have a head start. Of course, you can also start college as a confused young student, which is great as well—you are flexible. Flexibility is an advantage, because it leads to a wide open future. You are open to a large selection of opportunities, and one of them might lead to your dream career. (This can be true for people with clearly defined goals: keep your minds open, and you might discover something fantastic.)

College time is a great chance for this self-discovery process. The hints are everywhere:

  1. The classes (and majors). As you are introduced to a wide range of topics, your critical thinking skills as well as your beliefs are challenged. What classes are you taking? What do you like/hate about them? Is there a part that excites you? What topics do you wish to explore further? Take a minute and ponder through simple questions such as these. You will probably be surprised by how much you have learned about yourself, and the world. (So the other hint is: take a bunch of different classes to broaden your horizon.)
  2. Professors and alumni. Need support? They are there for you. Chances are, they have gone through the same exact dilemmas as you. They can offer you good advice. You can learn a lot by just talking to them. Plus, they can give you insights about certain occupations, fields and even introduce you to their networks, which may be very helpful.
  3. If you are curious about a field, the most straight forward way to explore is to work in the field. Various companies offer different levels of internships for students. Through the internships, you will find out whether you want to go further in this particular field, or perhaps move in a different direction completely. Your co-workers are great resources, too. They might show you far more about this field than you could ever imagine. The experience you gain gain through an internship will provide strong insight into the specifics of a particular profession..

The above points are some suggestions among hundreds of ways to answer the big question. Combine these thoughts with your interests, habits, and dreams, and see if you can form a preliminary impression about what you want to do. Why not prepare now, so when the opportunity arises, you are ready to take advantage.

Lastly, I’d like to quote the great Japanese cartoon artist Hideaki Sorachi:

Dreams are like trees: they are more fun to climb than to just gaze at. There are things that you’ll learn only when you actually climb after them.

Good luck. The future awaits.

Shu Zhang, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13