Heather Knobel, Colgate Class of 2022

College in general, but Freshman year especially, is the time of your life in which you are told to explore. Everyone has a different journey when discovering their likes and dislikes. You’re living on your own and starting a new chapter of your life. But getting started can be tricky if you don’t even know where to begin. Again, the journey is different for everyone, but discovering your true self has no limits in any aspect of your life.

Majors, Minors, Professors, and Books – Discovering Who You Want to be in the Classroom:

Not all students walk away from high school knowing exactly what they want to do with their life let alone major in when they get to college. Some students may know what they want to study but change their interests when they get to school, and some students may have an idea and stick to it.

I left high school with the intention of majoring in Psychology (which I declared after my Freshman year). I also had an interest in possibly studying Political Science. First semester, I took a class called “Presidency and Executive Leadership.” It was a great class with a brilliant professor, but I will never take another Political Science class again! I learned a lot but I discovered that is not something I want to study for the next few years. And, guess what…that is OK.

Another example, this one more positive, is how I declared my minor in Jewish Studies. My parents were certainly a little shocked as it was a bit out of the blue. First semester, I took a class called “Faith After the Holocaust.” The material was dry and depressing, but my professor was one of the most inspirational educators I’ve ever had. At the end of the semester, I declared a minor in the subject with this same professor as my minor advisor. Keep in mind, it’s not always the material that will draw you in, sometimes it could be the individual standing at the front of the room.

The best thing to do when trying to discover your passions in the classroom is to be open-minded and take a class you think you will like even if you know nothing about it. It may spark your interest in the subject and it may turn you off from it completely, but you will never discover unless you explore.


A selfie that made my mom cry moments before I declared my major

Beyond the Brick Buildings – Your Passions Outside of the Classroom:

You probably have a few things in mind when it comes to school involvement. Maybe you want to sing, be on the radio, volunteer, or do a club sport. I can tell you now, your school has it. And sometimes, it can be a little overwhelming.

The best way to weed out the good from the bad is to sign up for everything. Sounds weird, right? I know. But the more you sign up for means the more you will be exposed to. Attending an activities fair at the beginning of the school year is the first step to getting involved and finding your interests.

I put my name on probably 25 different lists but I discovered a liking for about six or seven of those things. I made sure to attend all of the club kickoff meetings to learn more and crossed things off the list from there. And this is exactly how I figured out what I want to be when I grow up. It’s not always the classes that will set you on your path, sometimes it’s your life beyond the books that will.


Volunteering at the Office of Admissions as a Tour Guide and Greeter for prospective students

Choose Wisely -- Friends Play a Big Role in Your Life:

Food, friends, style, and more! College is, in a sense, a fresh start to it all. You will meet many people in classes, your dorm, and places around campus. Some people you meet will become your best friends for life and others you may never see again. Discovering who you are can be a difficult task but the friends you choose to make can help.

As you are probably already aware from friendships in high school, more often than not, the friends you choose will be pretty similar to you in one way or another. Because of this, you can feed off of your similarities and differences.

I have one friend that loves to sail so she joined the club sailing team when she got to school. Another friend of mine had never sailed a day in her life but thought she would give it a shot. Now, she’s a part of the club sailing team too!

The best advice I can give when it comes to discovering your own passions through your friends is to try something they love to do and maybe it can be your passion too. And, a plus, you guys can do it together!


Some friends and I getting together before heading out to a Colgate event

Everything you do for the next four years will help to shape you into your true self and your best self. Honestly, I have no idea what in the world I am supposed to do with a minor in Jewish Studies. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. College is the time in your life to find what interests YOU. Study what you love and do what you love. Life will figure itself out in the end. I’m still working on my path for life just like everyone else. The only way to continue to find my passions in a positive way is to keep an open mind and try everything at least once.