Learning and Changing: My College Experience (Part 3)

Taryn Noll
Penn State University

Volume: 11
Article first published online: November 12, 2009
DOI: 10.26209/MJ1161535

Keywords: advising, academic advising, adviser, advisor, student journal, college experience

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of journal entries written by Taryn Noll as she reflects on her undergraduate educational experiences. Part 2 was published on October 9, 2009.

All of sudden, it all makes sense. It is this feeling of joy, relief, and ease all rolled up into one distinct but unusual emotion. As of October 6, 2009, I, Taryn Noll, have picked a major! (Well, almost.)

Let me begin by explaining something I became involved in through Discover House. We were recently given the option to take part in the Division of Undergraduate Studies Certificate of Engagement program. As always, I said, “Sure, why not?” and signed up to be in the focus group, as well, to possibly help improve the program by giving a student's perspective on the process. The first step was to make an appointment with Career Services right here on campus. I met with a counselor there twice. The first time, she wanted to know all about me, my interests, my work ethic, some of my activities, and even about family, since I am technically a first-generation college student. Then, I went back to my dorm and completed a few questionnaires, which rated my abilities, interests, and values about careers. I am one of those people who takes a magazine personality quiz and ends up having an equal number of As, Bs, and Cs at the end, making my personality unclear and indecisive as usual. I was expecting to see similar results from this survey, but I was proven very wrong. I met with my Career Services counselor for a second time. We went over the possible jobs the surveys said would suit my abilities, interests, and values all at once. It showed that I really value social service, like to manage and lead, and love to work with people. In Career Services, there is a small and little known library, one of many here on campus, and my counselor directed my attention to its many career and internship resource books. I gazed at the entire shelf on environmentally friendly jobs. I plan on going back to show my friend in a week or two, because it is one of Penn State's great resources that, unfortunately, not many people know about.

The next day, I was conveniently meeting with my adviser, because it is that time of year to pick classes for spring semester. My Career Services counselor and I had starred a few possible majors that suited my needs and to my surprise, my adviser helped me narrow down the choices even further. Yes, I—indecisive Taryn Noll—have narrowed down my vague majors directory, one about the size of Penn State's majors listing, to a concise, three-item list. I am planning on majoring in (drum roll please) German and adding a double major (for the Paterno Fellows Program) in either International Studies or Communication Arts and Sciences. Now that I have chosen these options, yet again, everything seems to be falling into place. I made a list of classes ready to go for October 30, when I could pick my classes. Thanks to 20 AP credits from high school, I can pick my classes earlier than most first-year students. The order that students pick classes is based on the number of credits they have accumulated. I am really excited to start spring semester and dive into more major-specific classes, but I suppose I should get through finals first!

Earlier this same splendid and satisfying week, I heard back about which THON committee spot I had earned. Well, I got a call around 9:00 p.m. Sunday night (they make you wait all day!) and I didn't get Morale, my first choice. The funny thing is, I didn't get my second choice either. I am on the Rules and Regulations Committee. Honestly, I had no idea what this committee did. It was one I quickly dismissed when I read about the committees on the THON website (www.thon.org). But three meetings into it, I am the Family Relations Chair of my smaller individual committee and could not be happier. Each week, I end the meeting with a story about a child and family battling pediatric cancer. It is a way to remind us all why we are doing all this hard work. Rules and Regs is the committee that most people overlook, much like I did, but we play a huge role during THON weekend. We are in the Bryce Jordan Center the whole forty-six hours and get to be very hands-on with the whole event. I will probably apply for Rules and Regs next year as well. So far, THON really is indescribable. I can only tell you what it does to me: it gives me chills every time I watch a video from previous years, it makes me cry thinking about the families that have lost their children to the disease, and it makes me determined to make sure I do every possible thing I can to help THON succeed as always. A little more than 100 days until THON 2010 and Penn State is already buzzing with activities and fundraisers. If you are not sure what THON is or just want to see some really inspiring videos, go to www.youtube.com and type in THON. I hope they give you the same feelings they give me.

Until next time,


About the Author(s)

Taryn Noll is a first-year undergraduate student at Penn State. She can be reached at tln5038@psu.edu.