The First-Year Exploratory Program Helped Me Find My Right-Fit
Our guest blogger for the post below is Inara Pirani, a Drexel student pursuing a bachelor's degree in general business.
I recently came across a portfolio from my preschool days with a questionnaire about me. Among the information like my height and handprint was the infamous question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I had answered that I wanted to be a teacher. The rationale for my response was simple: My mom was a preschool teacher, and I thought it seemed fun. To a four-year-old, school mainly consisted of art activities and reading books. What's not to love about that?
Like most people, my answer to what I wanted to be changed several times before I started college. A fashion designer, art professor, environmental scientist and structural engineer were all considered at some point. Correspondingly, my interests in school were all over the place. Some years I liked history, and other years my favorite subject was math. When I applied to colleges, I applied as undeclared, hoping that I'd figure it out eventually; after all, about 30 percent of college students change their major at least once.
When I started at Drexel in 2019, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew that the First-Year Exploratory Studies (FYES) program would give me both time to explore and exposure to topics that would help me pick my major. The faculty also seemed really nurturing, and to a shy kid from a small town in Massachusetts, that meant a lot. I certainly didn't think that the FYES students and faculty would become my close-knit family on campus, carrying on long past my first year — but that's exactly what happened.
I certainly didn't think that the FYES students and faculty would become my close-knit family on campus, carrying on long past my first year — but that's exactly what happened.
Many of the instructors for the FYES classes had themselves struggled to decide on a major or a career path. Not only does this make them more empathetic toward the journey of declaring a major, but they also often enhance our classes by giving examples from their own lives.
For me, knowing that a "real adult" had trouble deciding what to do normalized the exploration process. The assignments for the classes support the lectures by emphasizing exploration, such as attending a career fair, shadowing a class and conducting informational interviews. The more I learned about all the different careers and subjects I liked, the easier it became to narrow down my choices.
Community is my favorite part of the FYES program. Because it is a smaller program, I found it easier to get to know the students and faculty. I was able to get to know my instructors and advisors on a personal basis, and many of them are still my mentors today. Through the FYES program, I was able to explore my interests, and eventually declare a major in General Business. I realized I like both STEM and humanities, and business is a great marriage between the two. Though this career trajectory is different from what my four-year-old self envisioned, it's a right combination of my interests, passions, and skill sets.