You have high hopes and big dreams when you head off to college, but things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes when you start college, you may start to change and find that what you thought you wanted is no longer the case. Maybe you don’t even know what you want to do in the first place. Either way, it is alright if you don’t have a major picked out right away, or start college undeclared.
With many majors and specializations offered, choosing which major to pursue your bachelor’s degree can be challenging. It is okay to feel uncertain at first, and many students are open to the chance to explore different fields to discover what interests them most. There are often many negative feelings surrounding being undeclared at the beginning of your college career; however, it can actually be a good thing to not have a major picked right away.
Benefits of Being Undeclared
Enrolling with an undeclared major allows you to explore your options and give you the chance to take a variety of courses on different topics to see what you would like to pursue further. You will need to check your universities requirements or with your academic advisor to see how long you can be undeclared. Most universities will allow you to remain undeclared for up to one year or two semesters.
Starting your college career undeclared can also save you some hassle later on down the road. According to Frank.org, at least 80% of college students change their major during their college career. If you start out undecided and take the time to look through the different options by taking courses and speaking with an academic advisor, you can make a well-informed choice. The later in school you change your major, the more significant the implications could be.
Although taking this route may be helpful to you, it’s important to note that not picking a major may push your expected graduation date back. That could affect any scholarships or other financial aid you might have, so it would be good to talk it over with someone before making any significant changes.
Picking a Major
For an incoming freshman, our best piece of advice is not to stress about picking a major right away. Now that you have taken some time to look over the different options offered at your university, you can begin narrowing your options.
Make a list
We make lists for all sorts of reasons; why would picking a major be any different? Writing things down can help you visually and logically think through them.
When deciding your major, there are many factors that you should think about:
- What courses are involved?
- What are the graduation requirements?
- What job could I get after I graduate?
Now that you have your list of options you’ve explored, which ones would you like to seriously consider?
What Did You Like?
On this list of possible majors, which ones do you like? Do any of them have the chance to help you get a job that you would enjoy? Let yourself be a little more creative to explore all the things you’re passionate about to see if you can visualize yourself in a particular role or field using the major. While some of the classes you take might not lead up to being aligned with your major, they can help you navigate your way to something involving different things you are passionate about.
What Were You Good At?
To narrow down the list, even more, think about all the classes from your major list that you were good at. And if you’re up for it, include the ones you think you weren’t so fond of.
How will this be helpful? When you compare the two, it can help you make an informed, logical choice. It may seem weird, but just because you are good at something doesn’t mean that you would end up enjoying that major or a job in that related field.
For example, if you are good at math and performed well in your first accounting class but did not enjoy the coursework involved, you might not want to consider accounting as a major moving forward.
Talk to a Professional
Although we have mentioned it before, a great way to get a sense of what major you might want to pursue further is speaking with an advisor. They will better understand what the coursework will look like moving forward and can help with any questions or hesitations you have.
You can also try speaking with someone who got a degree in a field you’re considering. It could be a parent, family member, friend, or acquaintance, but getting advice from someone with experience in the field can give you valuable insight into if you would enjoy this major or career path.
You could ask about what it’s like getting into the industry, the work-to-life balance, pay range, and possible career growth. Knowing this information can give you a sense of whether or not careers within this degree path are suitable for you.
Picking a major and a career path can be scary, but know that you are not alone! There are many different options out there to help you make this decision. Although it may feel overwhelming, it is okay to start school not exactly sure where you are headed or change your direction halfway through.