You’ve been asked the question a million times- what are you going to major in? Or scarier- what is your major? Being undeclared can be a little intimidating. From them moment we enter high school, we are conditioned to figure out what we want to do the second we set foot onto our future college campuses. Announcing to the world that we are entering college undeclared with no idea what we want to do or worse being a solid year into school without a major is terrifying. Feelings of worry, guilt, and sometimes even failure can arise in us as we tell friends and family. But have no fear- there is absolutely nothing wrong with being undeclared when entering college or even in the first few semesters of college. As a peer advisor and orientation leader for my school, I have seen it all. Trust me when I say that being undeclared can even sometimes be a good thing.
If you honestly do not know what you want to study while in college, being undeclared will help you keep from being roped into something you aren’t interested in. When you enter into a major you aren’t sure about or don’t like, when advising comes along you’re advisor will most likely continue to advise you into courses which follow that major’s requirements. When you do decide what you’re interested in, you may find that you’ve taken a bunch of classes which haven’t gotten you anywhere. Instead take your time being undeclared to knock out general education requirements and to take a class here or there to try out some new stuff.
Entering college undeclared will give you the opportunity to create a more diverse schedule throughout your first year to two years of college. There are few majors where this would be a negative (nursing, education, English) but, for the most part, this is a huge benefit that more students should be taking advantage of. Major related classes are great but taking a bunch of major courses right of the bat is sort of like getting tied down to something too early. You aren’t able to properly explore what is out there.
Having the ability to create a diverse schedule leads to the possibility of finding a new passion which you may have never known of otherwise. For me, I knew I liked anthropology in high school but I had kind of forgotten about it come the time for college. I took an intro class to fill a random requirement and everything I had loved and forgotten about came rushing back. Now two years later, I’m writing my honors thesis in medical anthropology, a subfield I never would have learned about if it weren’t for that random class at the beginning of my sophomore year.
Being undeclared is nothing to worry about. Don’t let well meaning friends or family let you feel as though being undeclared is something bad or that needs fixing ASAP. I promise that even the students who appear to have their whole life planned out don’t know what they’re doing. You aren’t alone. Take your time, figure out what you love, and everything else will fall into place.
Regan Gearhart is a senior anthropology major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She blogs about college and millennial life over at regangearhart.com.
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