Jackie’s Story: Figuring It Out

Facing College: Diverse Student Voices from Michigan State University

As told to: Natalie Liou

For me, coming to MSU was a very last minute thing. I thought I’d go to school in Minnesota. I grew up in Michigan and  had this idea that I really wanted to be far away. I was waiting for information about a scholarship to come in, but then it turned out that the scholarship wasn’t for quite as much as I’d thought, and so I had to ask myself, well, how badly do I really want to be in the middle of Minnesota, anyway?

So that led to me switching things over to MSU. Being from Michigan, half the people you know are planning to come to Michigan State and are hard core Spartans from birth. Not me. The first time I set foot on campus was orientation. One of my friends came to tour like 6 times. Me? I never toured. I never visited; just showed up.

I used to do competitive figure skating in high school—I was actually on the U.S. team for synchronized skating—but when I was applying to colleges, I just wanted to be done with it. But I did end up joining the synchronized team here my freshman year, mostly as a way to meet people.

It was definitely hard sometimes to balance synchronized skating and school. Especially during spring semester. That’s when there are more competitions and that was when I was taking Gen Chem, which is not a walk in the park under the best of circumstances. It worked out that every single time that class had an exam, it was the Monday after the skating team had been in a competition. So, for example, before the first exam, the skating team had a competition in Minnesota. We took a bus to get there and a bus back. There was a snowstorm so we didn’t get back here until 2 in the morning. And then I had a Gen Chem exam that night. When you’re gone like that, you don’t really study. You’re too hyped up, too focused on what you’re trying to do in your competition,you’re not worrying about studying and doing your practice problems.

Then the day we’d come back, I would just try to do all this chemistry cramming that everyone else in the class had been doing for the past four days. And that happened every exam of the semester! So that was really stressful and I feel like I definitely didn’t have as much time to focus on school or I didn’t prioritize it as well because I’d think, oh, I have skating, oh I wanna take a nap before I go to practice, I’m not going to do this homework right now. But then you have to do it sometime.

I was really relieved when I quit the team.  I did that mainly because when I wanted to go into athletic training, there was a requirement for a certain number of clinical hours, and I couldn’t go to practices and still do my clinical. There are things I miss for sure, but I’ve done way better in my classes since then. I’ve enjoyed the free time more and I like just being able to have my own life—not having to worry about,oh, I have to be at practice at this time, or go somewhere super early to work out this morning, or I’ll be gone at a competition this weekend. Instead, I can just choose what to do. It was a big part of my life for a long time, all through high school, but there’s so much more in college.

What’s funny is that I quit the team because of the athletic training major, but I didn’t end up staying with that, either. Actually, I’ve been through a few majors. So I started as Kinesiology, and then I tried to do packaging and found out there was a little bit more calculus in that, so I was like, alright, maybe not.

Then I was looking at business, and then I thought…mmm, probably not.

Then I went to athletic training, applied in athletic training, got in the athletic training program. A week later I thought, no, I don’t wanna be an athletic trainer.  So then I went back to kinesiology, and then my advisor said, hmm, maybe you should double major in psychology. I had a bunch of the classes already, and it would be easy enough to do. So I started the double major and once I was in the psych classes, I realized that it was the first time I actually found college interesting. This was the second semester of junior year.

I actually ended up switching my entire major to that. I feel like I’m a little bit behind in some ways, you know? Kind of late to figuring this stuff out. A lot of my friends who are majoring in business say, “Oh, I got into business school, and I’m doing these internships, and, yeah, I already have this job offer,” and I’m still figuring out that next step.

Just figuring out what I liked and following that has been the biggest challenge for me. I kind of feel like as I took classes in my athletic training program, I kept telling myself, “Oh, yeah, definitely, I wanna do this,” even though I really didn’t.

But I’m a psychology major now.

This story originally appeared in Facing College: Diverse Student Voices, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

Previous Post
Sarah Ann’s Story: Perfectionism and Cookies
Next Post
Elizabeth’s Story: Optimistic and Excited