What’s Next?

By: Patrick Carolina III


During every level of school whether it’s elementary or college, we all experience becoming a senior and having our “last dance” within that phase. During that “last dance,” we are faced with different challenges. One of these challenges includes deciding what are next steps after graduation. I know that during my senior year of high school, it seemed like I was bombarded with questions like “what’s next for you?”, “are you going to college and if so what school?”, “what do you plan to major in”? Many students answer these questions with confidence because they have a plan of what they want to study, where they want to study, what program they want to apply to, and even what career path they want to pursue.

 Entering college, I felt that I had a good idea that I wanted to study music at Furman University. I knew that I wanted to become a trombone performance major and ultimately play background music for movie productions. That was my routine answer when I was faced with those infamous “what’s next” questions.


The time came for me to put these plans into action as I arrived on campus and started on the music major journey. Right away, I was surprised by how rigorous the material was and got a taste of everyday life as a full-time musician. I started to realize that this career path might not fit the type of lifestyle I saw myself living. At this point in time, most college freshmen probably may think that this is where they should jump ship and change majors but, I didn’t. I chose to buckle down and try to stay motivated, because I still had the passion, fire, and love for the art of making music. But I also realized that I did not know what career path I wanted to pursue.

Being that the curriculum for music majors is set so that the majority of our classes entering Furman are focused on music, I started to envy my friends that were able to take classes in other fields of study. They were able to see what they liked or didn’t like. They also were able to begin fulfilling their general education requirements better known as GERs, which Furman requires of all students, even the music majors whose academic life seems to be engulfed by music.


First, I thought of GERs as a waste of time because I had a plan of action and felt that music was all I should have to worry about. *Spoiler alert*–I was wrong!!! As I continued to see my friends sample different subjects and start to find their interest, I was still mainly taking music classes. It was not until the Fall semester of my junior year where I started to start to sample other majors. You may be thinking “it took him a while to come to his senses”!

Up until this point, I had taken about 3 or 4 classes outside of music over two years. That’s about 1/4 of the classes I have already completed at Furman. In my fall semester of my junior year, I took public speaking, intro to statistics, media and society, and world music. This variety allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and explore different subjects.


By exploring different subjects, I was able to find a new interest in Communication Studies. Through my public speaking, media, and society courses, I was able to dissect and create speeches by exploring how communications have evolved throughout different forms in our society. My newly found interest led me to continue along the Communication Studies path to ultimately major in it. Without Furman requiring students to step outside of their comfort zone by way of the GERs, I would’ve never known that I enjoyed Communication Studies.


From my experience, I feel that it is important that students know that it is ok to not have an answer to the “what’s next” question when regarding fields of study and majors. In most cases, it’s a good thing to not know because it gives you a fresh slate to work from and explore. Having a set idea before coming into college often doesn’t allow one to have an open mind.

Having an open mind allows you to not get in the way of your ability to explore the new thing college brings. So next time someone poses the “what’s next” question, don’t be afraid to tell them “I DON’T KNOW” and that you look forward to the many experiences that college brings. Through experiences such as GER’s, you will find something that interests and brings you happiness.

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