Choosing a College Major

By Mason Larimore

Everyone always wants to know what do you want to be when you grow up? As kids, the answers range from teacher to astronaut to super hero. Over the years, through the transition from elementary school to middle school, the answer changes again and yet again it changes as the transition to high school is made. The answers change as our interests change, new hobbies are explored and opportunities arise. My answers changed from elementary school teacher to veterinarian, from lawyer to fashion designer, from farm manager to large animal veterinarian and eventually back teacher. But this time with a different focus: agriculture!

When you think about what you want to do with the rest of your life, it's easy to get overwhelmed. The best way that I could choose a major was to actually experience the things I was interested in and learn if they were for me, long-term. I had my heart set on becoming a veterinarian for most of my high school career so my first "real" job was at Buckner Animal Clinic where I could get valuable career experience and have some spending money without having to ask mom and dad. I was fortunate enough to work there for a year and a half throughout the summer and school year and gain awesome experience and knowledge that I still use today. After working there, I decided that while I could handle working in a clinic setting as an assistant, I definitely couldn't be the one calling the shots, so I decided to explore other career options.

While employed at the clinic, I was taking agriculture classes in school. Because I was still planning on being a veterinarian at this point, I continued taking classes which started with the small animal class, but eventually it led into classes that covered a wide variety of topics in the agriculture. As my involvement and love for FFA grew throughout my high school career, I realized that I wanted to continue to be a part of the organization and I really enjoyed sharing my passion for agriculture with others. That's when the path of agriculture education clicked! It seemed like a major in which I could continue "agvocating" and have an advisor role in FFA for the rest of my career.

Since I have been in college, I have never once thought about changing my major. I feel that having agriculture education as a major is the most rewarding because the classes I am required to take cover a little bit of every facet in agriculture. I take major specific classes (Ag Ed classes) but I also get to take animal science classes, Ag business classes, Ag communications classes, etc. I have gotten the opportunity to work with high school agriculture students since my first semester of college and the opportunities to work with the current high school students keep becoming more abundant as each semester passes. I am already getting to take part in what I plan on doing for the rest of my career and it is exciting!

I've been asked what I would want to do career-wise if I didn't teach agriculture and my answer has always been, "I don't know." I have such a passion for my field that off the top of my head I can't think of anything else I would want to do. I know that if it came down to it, I'm sure I could figure out something in the agriculture industry. But when it comes to picking a major, my recommendation is to decide on something you couldn't imagine not doing. While I could see myself working at a clinic, it wasn't the one thing that my filled my heart. It was a job and not a passion.

Explore all of your possibilities and try to get a little experience in the field you think you want to go into before you decide on it as a major. I am confident that doing that was probably the best thing that happened for me. If I hadn't worked in a clinic before going to college, I would have declared Pre-Veterinary Medicine as my major before realizing that it wasn't for me. But my experiences led me to my real passion, agriculture education!

So my advice is: take your time. Explore your options. If it comes down to it, change your major. But the real key is to experience a few things and find what makes you happiest.

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