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Pursuing the Right Path

Rachel Casella is an exploratory studies major at Lebanon Valley College

Editor’s Note: Exploratory studies major Rachel Casella ’23 shares her experience of choosing a college and completing her first year while trying to determine a career path.

As a first-generation student surrounded by people who all knew exactly what they wanted to major in, I was pretty terrified when I began my college journey. I felt I would be so far behind everyone else who was already taking classes lined up specifically with their major. There were many nights where wondered why I was even spending the money to go to college because I didn’t have the slightest clue of what I wanted to do with my life. 

Not knowing what I wanted to major in, I decided to search for a place that met the requirements I knew I wanted for sure. Walking onto LVC’s beautiful campus, I immediately felt at home. One thing I noticed right away was just how safe and tight-knit the college community was. At LVC, you get the chance to make a name for yourself rather than just exist as another number in a sea of students. With this in mind, I realized I could build a relationship with professors who actually cared about my success. There’s a reason Lebanon Valley College ranked number one for job placement in the state for three years in a row. Even with the discouragement of knowing I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I knew the staff at this college would surely be able to help guide me on the right track. 

Things began to come together during my First-Year Experience course called “Making Major Decisions.” I expected ineffectual personality tests that never got me any further than they did before. Instead, the course introduced me to a new mindset. I progressed from thinking I was already failing before college even started to wonder why everyone doesn’t come in as an exploratory major. 

With all the work opportunities out there, how could we know for sure what we want at the ripe age of 18 with such little life experience? Now I’m not saying every student who declares their major is doing the wrong thing, but it’s also completely normal and acceptable to not know what you’re doing straight out of high school. 

One of my biggest takeaways from Making Major Decisions is a concept known as the butterfly effect—the idea that just like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause a severe hurricane, one small experience can start a non-linear chain of events to a job you didn’t even know existed. It could be a small event such as an encounter in the coffee shop that makes you realize you have a passion for helping others. With that in mind, you have a whole new world of options that opens up for your future. As Professor Julian once said, “You might be wandering, but it’s not aimlessly!” Just like you can’t predict the future, you often can’t predict what will arise in your path that will lead you to your dream job.  

Heading into my second year at LVC, I learned that my dream job would likely not fall into my lap. I will find it through the journey of putting myself out there through new experiences and paying close attention to who I really am. I’ve learned that I find joy in environmental science and studying human behavior, which can seem like a bit of a challenge to find a job that pertains to both. Again, this is where it is important to keep in mind that there are numerous career opportunities available; even though I haven’t found it yet, it doesn’t mean I never will. Many people end up with a job they would never have imagined or considered attainable. This is why it’s essential to make the most out of every experience and opportunity possible. 

While it takes a lot of patience, it is important to remember good things take time. I can assure anyone who is in the same position as I was, that the Lebanon Valley College faculty are more than equipped to guide you through the process of successfully finding exactly who you were meant to be. Anyone with the right amount of determination and work ethic, paired with a positive mindset, can accomplish more than they ever thought possible.