By BRYAN MAHOSKY
Special to the Sun-Gazette
By the time I graduate with my bachelor's degree I'll have been in college for five years, not four. It is not uncommon for a person to act sympathetically toward me when he or she finds out.
"A whole extra year?" "How much is that costing you?"
I understand I'm not in an optimal position, but I am happy for it. Choosing the right major for me took longer than it does for most people, but the wait was worth it.
After I graduated high school in 2009, I packed my life in a couple of boxes and moved from dinky little Wellsboro to the comparatively monstrous Providence, R.I.
I studied culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University for two and a half years, where I took both academic courses and hands-on culinary labs, as well as participated in an internship at the Wisp Ski Resort in Maryland.
All seemed well. I was learning fundamental cooking techniques and steadily making my way toward a bachelor of science in culinary arts. But something seemed off.
I earned good grades and passed all of my hands-on finals, and I could feel the passion of cooking. That passion, however, was not my own.
My fellow chefs-in-training had an undeniable passion as they roasted lamb and braised pork. I could see the twinkle in their eye as they deboned a whole chicken.
I did not feel this. I had the skills, but not the heart.
It wasn't until my internship in Maryland that I felt as though I truly was wasting my time.
I was working 12 hour days, six days a week. I did a bit of everything in those three months - from frying mozzarella sticks to grilling steaks, as well as prepping food for at least five hours a day.
I realized I had no desire to be there. This is a career that I was putting tens of thousands of dollars into, and I was watching it all be for naught.
I stuck it out for one more trimester so I could receive my associate's degree instead. I figured I should at least have something that I could put my name on to show for all of that money I spent.
I then transferred to Mansfield University as a communication major. I originally had an emphasis in public relations, but with my desire to write, I found a home in the journalism major the following semester.
Now I am the features editor for The Flashlight, the Mansfield University campus newspaper, as well as the editor-in-chief for Crossroads, a biennial magazine from the journalism majors.
I feel as though I will be able to graduate and pursue a career that I will be happy with.
In the end, it all worked out for me. I may have to suffer through another whole year of college, but when you enjoy your classes, it's not really suffering.
Find a major that works for you. If you're in high school, or are in college and are still undeclared, or are feeling uneasy with your current major, that is okay. It's a silly thought to have to choose your career when you're still in high school.
Take your time, take in as much information as you can, and make a decision that works for you in the long run.