The month of March has sort of decisive in terms of what is next.

Around mid-March I learned from the second school I had applied to that I was admitted. This took me to be indecisive about which school to choose over the other one. One is Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, which is in Chicago, although my program focuses on politics, so a big part of it would take place in D.C. The other school is Columbia Journalism School. The decision is a tough one, but also an obvious one, I think?

I am opting to go to Columbia because is in New York City, I visited the school back in February and I sat through one of the classes and I just felt at home. Being back in New York seems like the place I would like to be right after graduation. I have enjoyed my years being away for school in Massachusetts, but I am thinking that going back would be a breath of fresh air.

Of course it came to be a surprise, as I was not expecting that grad school was going to happen. I had been applying to jobs, and I was on the verge of securing a job with a tech company here in Boston. I reasoned that I could wait one more year before I enter the workforce. After all, I feel lucky that I have the chance to be able to consider on attending to grad school—not everyone has that sort of luxury.

All I can say about graduating from college is that you do not need to have a plan right away. In the past few months I have been having a few regrets about not having majored in other fields. I have this feeling that maybe I should have a clearer idea about what I am doing next and where I am heading to. I do not. Despite the fact that I am probably attending grad school, I do not know if I will end up doing journalism for the rest of my life. I have no sense of how good I could be or the opposite.

I have seen people who do go to Columbia for J-school and end up doing something completely different even after. I guess the point is that even if you obtain a Masters degree in something, the secret that not many people want you to know is that you do not have to stick to that field forever. Plans and life perspectives change as we keep on growing.

The advice I can give you for your undergrad career is that do challenge yourself. Try to get the best out of your experiences, go to your professors’ office hours—it does not have to be every one of them, but you’ll make a connection with few of them and they can help you along the way. They helped me with advice, recommendations, and/or just a nice chat about a quirky subject. Indeed, it is because of professors and other adults in the higher education setting whose support has enabled me to pursue various other interests and goals.

I would say that, although I sound unsure about grad school, I have to admit that I was at one point throughout this past academic year. But not anymore. I am unsure about the future, but so is everyone else. Journalism is one of my biggest interests and I want to give it a try against the odds that its demise could be colossal in a near future as the monetization problems are not completely resolved. Hypothetically, if it does not work out, all the communication skills that I gain and strengthen during my time in grad school will follow me and they can be applied to other fields that I feel passionate about. Putting that together with adaptability, everything is possible. Hence, I feel that I can go to grad school without feeling it will be a waste, but a dream coming true.

Do not stress if you do not want go to grad school right away or ever. If you do not find a job before graduation, do not stress. I have plenty of friends who graduated college, did not have a job, but within 3 to 6 months they all found wonderful jobs across the country. They are living very different lives, but they seem happy about where they currently are. I tell myself that everything works out, it is a matter of working hard, keep yourself focused, and a little bit of tenacity.

One of my final advices about undergrad is that you do not need to have a clear map of your next 60, 70 years. Be open to spontaneity. Of course, have a draft of what could come next, but do not force it. Let things flow, try everything you think you would like to try, and let the life take you where it needs to take you. I know it sounds corny and cliché, but is true. I had a very clear, constructed path before college and then everything changed for good. I let life surprise me and I am not disappointed a trifle of what my four years have been like at Brandeis.

All the best,

Santiago Montoya