Should I Declare a Major Right Off the Bat?
Everyone is different. You may already know what you want to major in and what you want to do with your life after graduating from college, or you may be completely clueless as to what you want to major in. And if you’re simply undecided or wavering between a couple of options, that’s okay too. Regardless of where you stand, you are not alone! College is the perfect time for people to discover themselves and their passions through a variety of classes and activities.
It’s a common myth that applying for college as undecided will hurt a student’s chance of getting into their dream school. However, many institutions assure students that majors have no impact on college admissions. This is especially the case if your application is strong already. If you feel better about declaring something, you can always declare a major you’re interested in exploring and change it once you’re admitted and a couple of semesters in. Depending on the college you apply for, it may ask for you to select a department or school, like Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, or Engineering within their institution before you attend. Again, if you aren’t totally sure, don’t fret. You can always pick something now and then switch schools after picking a college major later on.
There are actually pros and cons to both declaring a major right off the bat, and getting admitted as undeclared. So, you’re safe with whichever path you choose!
If you already have a clear picture of what you want to focus your studies on, then you may get right into the program and waste no time. Depending on how you set your schedule up, you may get the benefit of graduating early and getting a head start on your career. But just because you get into a college under a declared major, doesn’t necessarily mean you will stick with it. Some students may go a couple of years into their education, only to learn that their declared major isn’t right for them. At that point, they would have to make the difficult decision to go through with it to avoid graduating late or switch majors and possibly stay in school longer for a more fulfilling college education.
Alternatively, if you get into college undeclared, you have the opportunity to explore a variety of classes to get a feel for what you are most interested in. From there, you may take more classes within a certain field of study to determine which major would be best for you. College freshmen are encouraged to sign up for 3-4 classes each semester that are each from different fields. For example, one may sign up for a math class, a science class, a foreign language class, and a writing class, for example. The options are endless in college, so you can really tailor your schedule to what you think you would enjoy while fulfilling your general education requirements. Keep in mind that unless you’ve gotten most of your general education requirements out of the way through AP classes in high school or transferable community college classes, you’ll be spending at least your first year getting those GE’s out of the way. So, don’t worry about falling behind simply because you haven’t declared a major. Even those who have declared a major are working on getting general academic requirements out of the way as well!
The bottom line? There is no right or wrong way to go about selecting a college major. You can jump into a major if you are already sure of it, or you can take your time to explore a variety of courses and pick what’s right for you. Remember that once you begin your college career, there are plenty of resources available to help you succeed. Don’t forget to reach out to professors, an academic advisor, a career counselor, and your peers for advice and insight when you need it.