COLUMN: How to find your passion at Central Michigan University

Grandville sophomore Kaitlyn Hixson (Courtesy Photo | Kaitlyn Hixson)

Some people get to college and think they need to know exactly what they’re going to major in. At least that’s what I thought when I got to Central Michigan University – but that’s not true.  

A university is the place you go to help you figure it all out. 

In high school, you’re on a four-year path that is already planned out for you. The teachers tell you exactly which six classes to take every year. If you follow their plan, you walk out with a diploma, the quadratic equation and you are supposedly ready to take on the world. 

In college, everything changes. You choose everything. You choose your classes, dorms, schedule, meal plan... When you’re an undecided freshman, those decisions can be overwhelming. You’re almost hoping for someone to come along and tell you what to do. 

During my orientation, we were divided into groups based on our planned major. The only problem was, I had no clue what I wanted to major in. I decided to go with the  “undecided” group. The speaker for this group was an academic adviser who told us that we were the honest group, and that everyone else who knew their major was kidding themselves. Finally, I started to feel my shoulders get lighter the more he talked.

When it was time to schedule my first semester of classes, I was overwhelmed with all the choices. But I asked for help from a wiser, elder student who knew which professors to steer away from and which buildings I could sprint to in under 15 minutes. With his advice, I started to feel better about being undecided.

I took the advice of literally every tour leader from my orientation and I got involved. I joined the Chippewa Marching Band as a piccolo where I met some of the best people I have ever known. I got involved in the deaf culture events around campus and I met new people also thinking about an American Sign Language minor. I entered math competitions and hung out with friends from my calculus class. I went to basketball games with my roommates and cheered on our team until our voices were gone. Then I found myself starting to feel like I belonged here at Central. Everything started fitting into place.

I have now decided on a double major in applied mathematics and journalism, and a minor in American Sign Language. I found my passions through trying new things, exploring my interests, stepping out of my comfort zone and getting involved!

I initially wanted to tour CMU because I had come here every summer for high school band camp and I liked the atmosphere of the campus. I imagined myself hammocking from all those trees and skateboarding on all the wide sidewalks. It just seemed like a place where I could be happy.

What made me commit to Central was my campus tour. When we were walking through the dorms, I noticed every door was propped open by a painted rock or brick. The tour guide told me students leave their doors open so they can make new friends. They paint the rocks at a rock painting party the first week of classes, and they use their pieces of art to prop open their doors the rest of the year. 

My freshman year, I made friends that I will have for the rest of my life. I met people in my classes, in my halls, from clubs and student organizations.  

If you open your door at CMU, you’ll fit right in.  

Kaitlyn Hixson is from Grandville, Michigan. She is double majoring in Applied Mathematics and Journalism with a minor in American Sign Language.