Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Lindsay Hartman

What We Wish We Knew When We Were First-Years

When I was a first-year, I wish I had known that it is never too early to start thinking about graduation—and what comes after it. The mantra of the liberal arts college is, “You can do anything you want with a major in the humanities!” This is true, with qualifications. A major in the humanities and the critical thinking skills that come with it do not guarantee that the job of your dreams will be handed to you along with your diploma. A major in the humanities enables you or limits you as much as you enable or limit yourself. It’s okay to not know what you want to do after graduation, but don’t let your uncertainty paralyze you.

Try things. Get summer internships that strike your fancy. If you hate your experience, at least you’ll be able to eliminate something from what seems like an infinite number of potential paths waiting for you after graduation. If you end up loving the field you work in during your internship, then it could be the building block of a future career. The only way to figure anything out is to take action. If you let fear and uncertainty paralyze you into passivity, you won’t escape your anxiety. Rather, you’ll end up facing the same fears again as graduation approaches, when the stakes are higher.

The good news is that it’s never too late. The ideal time to take action is always now. Even if you’re a senior, you still have time to figure out what you want to do. Now, as when you were a first-year, the important thing is to refuse to let your uncertainty overwhelm you, and to just do something. 

  • Lyndsay Hartman