College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, but nobody really thinks about what happens after those four years. Following graduation, most people go looking for a job that correlates to their degree. However, that doesn’t mean that they are happily set for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, it means going back to the drawing board and searching for what truly fulfills you, just like it did for 24-year-old student, Lauren Korolev.
“My undergrad was in strategic communications and journalism at KU,” Korolev said. “I also had a business minor because I wanted to get that marketing background side.”
After graduating from KU in 2019, Korolev started searching for jobs. But she came to notice that something wasn’t working.
“I have a very extroverted personality and I like to be with people, talking to people, moving around and I didn’t realize my day-to-day wasn’t going to be like that at all with this degree,” Korolev said. “I had a couple internships…but my day-to-day tasks were going in from nine to five and then just sitting at a desk writing. It felt like there was something missing and I wasn’t feeling any joy. I felt like what I was contributing wasn’t making a difference in anyone’s life. I knew I could not do this for the rest of my life.”
A year into the real world, Korolev could not help but recognize her unhappiness. Luckily, she had her faith and a big support group to lean on.
“After a lot of prayer, reflecting and just time spent talking to people who knew me the best—my husband, siblings, parents, best friends—I could tell it wasn’t me,” Korolev said. “I realized I needed to do something physical, that is where I got my fulfillment, physically helping someone. I grew up in a family where my mom’s a nurse, my dad’s a nurse, my aunt’s a nurse, my brother wants to be a nurse, I was surrounded by if from a young age. But I just wanted to be different, and I figured the corporate world was different. I was always the kid that did not know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I think it just took me a little time to figure it out.”
After a lot of thinking and talking to the people closest to her, Korolev decided to start studying to become a nurse. This led her to realize that she’s always had the caregiver quality inside of her, making her decision even easier.
“I’ve heard this and read this from some of my favorite authors, and one of them says, ‘pay attention to what the people closest to you say you’re good at,’” Korolev said. “For instance, my mom has always told me I could [be a nurse]. Or I’ve had good friends tell me that some of my gifts are being an encourager and helper. Growing up with three younger brothers, I was always the first one to step in and help take care of them. My parents both worked full time. My mom would get home at midnight and my dad would already be at work, so basically from dinner time to midnight, I was the one at home helping them do their homework, making their dinner, or getting them ready for school the next day.”
Although Korolev did choose to go back to school, it was challenging. Fear and doubt lingered through her mind. Nevertheless, she faced her worries head on and refused to take the easy way out.
“When I wasn’t enjoying the path I was on it scared me,” Korolev said. “I broke down in tears one day because I worked so hard and spent so much time and money on [my first] degree and I didn’t even like what I was doing. I had doubts in myself, I wondered if I was smart enough to do a whole different route; journalism and nursing had completely different classes. I was also worried about what other people would think. But I realized I shouldn’t be worried about that. I personally thought, ‘if this is what God created me to do, then nothing should stop me.’ I think a lot of people just get in a rhythm because it’s so much easier than to realize you don’t like it and are going to change.”
With the nursing school application deadline coming up, Korolev knew she needed to act fast. She found out that if she immediately started taking the prerequisites she was missing, she would be able to qualify for admission. With this in mind, she turned to the college who she knew would have her back along the way.
“My first step was calling KU to see how many prerequisites I was away from getting into the nursing program and then I started taking those classes at JCCC,” Korolev said. “I’ve taken classes there when I was home from my other colleges, and every time [I did] I had such a good experience. I loved the teachers and felt like they truly care about you as a person and care about your emotional stability. I felt like they always went the extra mile.”
Korolev knew she had to act fast because when she was clear about her new career choice it was already October and classes had started. When trying to build her schedule, one of the classes she needed was full. However, one email to the professor and she was in.
“[The college] really [does] care about people, you’re not just a number there,” Korolev said. “For instance, one of the classes I needed to go to nursing school was full, so I contacted the professor and told her my story, and she let me in her class last minute. I think that’s why the school has grown so much.”
Korolev’s hard work paid off. She has been able to stay on schedule with her classes, become a certified nurse’s assistant, and has just been accepted to the University of Kansas School of Nursing.
“I submitted my application to nursing school [last October], and I was contacted mid-March with an acceptance letter to KU nursing school,” Korolev said. “I’m going to finish up my prerequisites this Spring semester, and then I have one more class to take in the summer. I’m also going to work as a certified nurse’s assistant all summer and hopefully through nursing school.”
Comparing her life before her news plans and after, Korolev could not be more relieved.
“I feel like a breath of fresh air,” Korolev said. “I feel like I’ve finally found what I’m supposed to be doing, and I can’t describe how good of a feeling that is versus how bad of a feeling to think you’re stuck.”
Even though it took a lot of work, Korolev knows she made the right choice. But she also knows that not everyone is comfortable restarting. Here is her advice to them.
“You’re never stuck,” Korolev said. “You can always change. You don’t have to stay on the path you’re on. It’s not going to be easy and might take more time, effort, and energy, but it’s going to be totally worth it in the end. We only get one life; you don’t want to be miserable.”
In 2017, the U. S. Department of Education released data reporting that within 3 years of initial enrollment, about 30 percent of undergraduates in associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs who had declared a major had changed their major at least once.
It’s never too late to do what you love. No matter how old or how far you’re in your current degree, if you know you’d be happier doing something else, change your major, the college is on your side.
By Kiara Stamati