Throughout my entire academic life, I was constantly told that I needed to have a concrete plan for my education. It was hidden in my application to college, where I had to choose the major I was applying for. It’s been a defining parallel between my freshman year of high school and my freshman year of college: both time periods during which I’ve been expected to meticulously plan out the next four years of my life. I did this because I believed my educational plan would get me to where I wanted to go, even though I wasn’t even sure yet of where that was.
I have always heard stories about how a major or a class schedule might not correlate to a successful career. However, this year has challenged everything I thought I knew about my educational journey. My mindset shifted when a friend of mine introduced me to the importance of taking risks, such as studying abroad or seizing an unconventional opportunity.
As my friend reflected on their career and their education, they bestowed upon me one piece of advice: Take educational risks. At first, this idea perplexed me because for so long, I was taught that I needed to have a definite educational plan in order to find success. Frankly, the thought of taking an educational risk scared me and contradicted everything that I had been taught. However, after our conversation, I soon realized that educational risks are important because of what we learn from them.
If there is one thing I have learned at UC Berkeley, it is how interconnected our educational journeys are. I realized that my future life and career are not singular, but are multifaceted and therefore require a multifaceted set of knowledge and skills. The skills I learn taking one class can be applied and utilized in another, and the same thing applies with what I can learn from taking a risk.
For the past few years, my educational life has been clouded by a fear that I will regret my choices in the future, but what if this concern in itself has been misplaced? I realize now — as I attend a university with seemingly endless opportunities — that any one decision I make will not make or break my future. No matter what, as long as I am trying my best, I am learning and cultivating something that I can carry with me. Additionally, against all of my former beliefs, I realized that school is the time to take risks. Not a “quit-everything” type of risk but the type of risk that will push me to seize an opportunity that I formerly would have rejected because it didn’t fit into my four-year plan.
This idea still scares me, but as my freshman year of college begins to come to a close, I’ve realized the importance of cultivating skills and broadening my horizons. What better way to do that than by taking a risk?