While preparing for your freshman year, you may feel pressured to pick a field of study and stick with it for the next four years – but you shouldn’t. Unless you’re absolutely set on a specific major, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being undeclared when you enter college. In fact, doing so will allow you to experience a variety of different subjects, which will eventually help you narrow down your interests. Still nervous? Read below for 4 benefits of being undeclared:
1. You’ll get time to explore different subjects
It’s common knowledge that what you study in college is supposed to prepare you for a career in that field after graduation. The problem with this is that many students entering college aren’t yet sure what they want to spend the rest of their lives doing––which is super understandable!
Kristan Venegas, a Research Associate in the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at Rossier, says that students who don’t know what they want to study can benefit from an undeclared major because then they can take general courses to see what they like.
Natalie Kelly, a senior at Santa Clary University, did just this. “I went into my freshman year undeclared, and I couldn’t have been happier with my decision,” Kelly says. “I knew I was unsure what I wanted to study, so I was able to test out my likes and dislikes. While still taking courses that fulfilled general requirements, I got to try things out that I was interested in.” You’ll be getting gen-eds out of the way all the while testing the waters to see what you’ll like!
2. You can confirm your original interests
While some students have absolutely no idea what they want to study, there are also those who have some idea, but aren’t ready to officially declare a major. In fact, nearly 50 percent of entering college students are undecided about their major. To avoid wanting to switch majors later on in your college career, go in undeclared and start by taking introductory courses in the subject of your interest.
Katie Jordan, a senior at Bentley University, says she went into her freshman year undeclared, even though she had an idea of what she wanted to do in the long run. “I was in the situation where I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I experienced it in the classes that I loved,” she says. Taking classes and talking to professors in the department is a great way to learn if you’re going to like something!
3. You can get additional advising once you get to campus
According to Venegas, a lot of colleges offer additional advising for undeclared students. “Depending on the campus, schools will provide resources specifically for those who are undeclared, like exploring different major tracks, allowing students to speak with different students and professors from a variety of majors and different types of career testing,” she says.
If your school’s advising department doesn’t have specialized advising, Venegas says you should visit the career center. “I strongly recommend students go to their school’s career center to see what free testing is available.” Even if you have declared a major, you can still take tests to narrow down a specific area within your major! These are oftentimes similar to personality tests, asking questions about what you enjoy and look for in your day-to-day-life.
4. You’ll avoid wasting time and money
A good amount, anywhere from 50 to 70 percent, of students who declare majors early on will likely switch at least once before graduating. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this, but Venegas says that there will likely be a price to pay in order to do so. “Especially if you go from a major that’s completely different than your new one, you’ll end up paying more tuition since you’ll most likely have to start over,” she says. Additionally, it’ll take you longer to graduate, which can be a problem with certain scholarships that only last a certain amount of time.
By entering college undeclared, you can begin with general courses rather than major-specific ones – therefore preventing these issues. “I entered college undeclared,” Alaina Leary, a graduate student at Emerson College, says. “It allowed me to take the time to decide what I really wanted. Obviously, changing majors is possible as well, but I didn’t want to have to go through that process.” You could end up saving time and money!
Instead of stressing and choosing a major that you think you’ll like, take the time to try out a variety of subjects. You may be surprised with what you enjoy! There’s no reason to fear going into college with an undeclared major, especially if it feels right for you.