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College & Career

Dear Mochi: How Do I Pick a Major, and Stay on Top of Current Events?

I’ve been mentoring a high school junior over the past couple of months and, as a big sister of sorts, I’m often reminded of why I first joined Mochi nearly two years ago: I wanted to share advice and wisdom with the next generation of Asian American female leaders. Below are a few recurring topics on college and career I’ve discussed with my mentee that are applicable to high school students everywhere.

How did you decide what to study in college?

In high school, I was really involved in my school’s music and theater programs. Did I think I was going to become the next Idina Menzel? Absolutely not. So when it came time to apply to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I’m sure it’s no surprise that 80 percent of freshmen enter college with their major undeclared—and more than 50 percent switch majors at least once before graduation.

I remember looking at the application for Georgetown University and noticing that the school had a business program. I didn’t know anything about business at the time, but I knew I was the CEO of my own life. I wrote one of my college essays about how my life was like a business, expressing my goals of developing valuable personal and professional skills for any career through the program.

An old friend once told me that when thinking about your college major, you should ask yourself, “What’s the best way that I think, and how can I take that to the next level?” This applies to anyone and any interests, of course, and not just those considering business programs. But for me, this meant recognizing my strength in quantitative thinking after having worked my way up to BC Calculus in high school. Opting for finance and accounting classes in college truly complemented those skills.

I’m so busy with school and extracurricular activities. How do I make sure I stay on top of current events?

This is a great question because even if you’re smart and busy, it’s still incredibly important to be well-rounded. And that includes knowing what’s going on in the world around you. In college and beyond, you’ll often face situations, whether it’s in an interview or in a social setting, when someone references current events. Don’t be the person who has no idea what they’re talking about!

So, how do you avoid that? When I was in college, I would try to borrow or buy a copy of the Wall Street Journal and skim through the front page for a summary of the day’s headlines. But a newspaper or magazine subscription can add up, and even accessing articles online can come at a price. Plus, we live in a digital world where we are hyper-connected. With so much noise out there, how do you know what’s important? That’s when I discovered theSkimm, a free daily newsletter of major headlines sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. (Disclaimer: I now volunteer for them as well.) I like this because I check my email first thing in the morning, and the newsletter breaks down all major news in an easy-to-understand format. Other similar services include Need 2 Know, Quartz, and of course classics like The New York Times’ Morning Briefing.

Header credit: Jennifer Kong

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