By: Kevin A. O’Donnell, Give Back Senior Director of Student Mentor Services

Most high schoolers have a hard time identifying a strong interest for something to study in college, and certainly for naming what sort of career they might want to pursue after.  If there is an interest, it usually changes for people. Then it changes again in college-often a few times. And then it can change again (and again!) during your career. About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career.

This isn’t meant to scare you, but instead take a little bit of the pressure off. Of course, most of us want to have a sense of security about knowing what we will do in our future. So, when the “What-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up” question gets asked, it’s normal to get nervous if you don’t have an answer yet.  My advice is not to seek security about your future in definitively being able to name a major and future job when you’re in your teens, or even in your fifties.

Seek security about your future by having experiences.  Reflect on them- what you liked, and what you didn’t like.  Talk to other people about the experience and build meaningful relationships and connections.  It’s okay to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Take advantage of any opportunity because no opportunity it too simple. Whether it’s helping a neighbor move a pile of wood or attending a technology camp, every experience gets you closer to discovering your passion.

Give Back has heard from many students, in both high school and college, who have interesting stories about activities and opportunities they have been involved with over the years. Take Give Back scholar, Mariana Hernandez, for example, who decided to take a chance and explore one of her interests and turned that into her college major. Read her story here.