Congratulations! If you’re reading this, that means you’ve made it pretty far in your educational career. You’re able to start looking ahead. You’ve probably chosen a university that offers a good atmosphere for you to grow as a student, you were able to order a whole pizza over the phone without having a panic attack and you finally feel like you have everything figured out. Well, almost everything.
You haven’t decided your major yet.
Ah, yes, the undecided majors. If you’re in this group, society has cruelly labeled you as an unfocused student who doesn’t know what to do with their life. Sounds harsh, right? That’s because it is. I’m here to tell you that you need to cut yourself some slack. There are thousands of majors and programs and only one you. If you haven’t decided a major yet, here are some tips to cope with the stigma that being an undeclared student comes with.
1. Going in to school without a declared major gives you time to find something you're truly passionate about.
If you start school without a declared major, you give yourself a solid two years (more on that later) to research and explore subject areas that you haven't been exposed to yet. Public relations and biochemical engineering weren't in anybody's high school schedule, so taking a good amount of time to explore those subjects rather than jumping into a major that you don’t quite understand yet is a good way to ensure that you make the most of your college experience without wasting time on studying the wrong thing.
2. "Interdisciplinary studies" is a perfectly legitimate major.
I know — it's a shocking concept. Picture this: It’s the holidays. Your family just flew in and made themselves comfortable around your dining room table. You know they’ll ask daunting questions about your plans for your future and you’re not quite ready for it all. Suddenly, your Aunt Gertrude looks at you and before you can think twice asks the question you’ve feared most: “So what’s your major?” Silence. Every family member turns towards you. Thunder booms in the distance. Children are crying. You can hear the impending doom of your response in the panicked heartbeat of your chest. You look at your Aunt Gertrude and finally muster up the courage to say "Interdisciplinary studies." Your aunt smiles and says, "That sounds lovely," before forcing an awkward conversation centered around your love life. You see? Nobody will judge you for being undeclared. Secretly, some of your classmates will probably be jealous as they struggle to find out what they plan to do with their philosophy major. Basically, don't worry about what people will think. You are still just as smart and capable as the person who had their major decided when they were 11 years old. "Interdisciplinary studies" is taken just as seriously as a major in anything else.
3. Going in as undecided probably won't set back your studies or date of graduation.
A lot of students worry that going in as “undecided” wastes a lot of time and means that you take "filler" classes until you decide on your field of study. These filler classes have been said to waste your time while you could be taking classes geared toward a certain program or major. These filler classes also have been said to set back your date of graduation as you will start your major-specific classes late in the game. This is NOT always the case. Actually, it's quite smart to go in as undeclared. In general, the first four semesters (or two years) of college are filled with prerequisite classes or general admission classes like world geography or English composition. These classes are required so that students can eventually start their major-specific classes during their junior and senior year. Because of this, a lot of universities don't require their students to declare a major until AFTER sophomore year. Therefore, going in as undecided and fulfilling those general prerequisite classes means that you'll probably be able to start your major-specific classes soon after you declare your major AND during the same time as everyone else. You're not wasting time by being undeclared. If anything, you're using it wisely in order to find what you’re truly passionate about.
Being undeclared should not be an embarrassment. The shameful stereotype of the undecided student needs to die a slow and painful death. The fact that you’re even going to a college or university should be enough to make yourself proud. You’ve come a long way, and not knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life when you haven’t even started to live yet should not make you disappointed in yourself. Be proud of being undeclared; it’s a good place to start.
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