You are more than your academic interests, abilities and GPA. You have strengths and experiences that give you unique insight and the ability to contribute to change in your communities. 

You might not feel confident about where you want to go and how you want to grow. As you follow your curiosity, keep in mind that it’s a path-finding tool—not the path itself.  You can use it like a compass to find your way forward, though you might not know the destination (and we all wish we had a map).

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Choosing an experiential learning experience, or even a major, can feel as overwhelming as “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It may even feel like defining the purpose of your existence. UROP doesn’t have the answer to the meaning of life, but we encourage you to stay curious about your life experiences and the next steps forward—and understand that you’re developing skills for the journey (even on days when you feel lost).

Reframing Purpose

You might have a clear sense of purpose, or direction, and see the path ahead—even if it looks like an intimidating climb. If the way forward is less clear, it could be helpful to reframe how we think about “purpose.” Considering purpose as more of a process can re-center you in your thinking and highlights all that your context, abilities and confidence have enabled you to become and contribute—to this point and into the future.

Consider where your curiosity is pointing you and where you can draw the confidence to explore (and expand) your context. Reflect on the questions included here and see what intersections appear.

Venn diagram of three overlapping circles with the words curiosity, confidence and context in each.


 What curiosities do you have about your academic and creative interests?

 What excites you about your field of study, major or developing interest?


 What strengths and skills do you already have?

 What life experiences give you unique insight?


 ​How do your academic interests connect with your personal and professional goals?

 What change do you want to see in communities you care about?

Download Worksheet: Curiosity, Confidence and Context