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An Undecided Major Is Perfectly Normal and Should Be Encouraged

Aug 04, 2011

Many incoming freshmen are uncertain of what major to choose and are confused about whether or not to claim an undeclared major. Read on to learn the benefits and possible drawbacks of being undecided when it comes to your major area of study.

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Benefits of Being Undeclared

Starting college without a specific major has many advantages, particularly in the liberal arts, where intellectual curiosity is a cornerstone of the learning process. However, it's wise to know what major interests you by the end of your sophomore year. That's typically when you'll be done taking general education courses and ready for your major coursework.

An Open-Minded Approach

Starting college without knowing exactly what to do could mean being more open to new experiences. You might be more willing to challenge yourself, try new things, meet new people, and get out of your comfort zone, all of which are important aspects of college life.

More Opportunities to Explore Classes

You'll get more opportunities to take different classes that don't necessarily fall under one specific major. At the same time, you'll be exposed to different teaching styles, which can also help you learn how to succeed in any given major track. You may even fall in love with a course of study you never thought you'd enjoy, like linguistics or European history. Maybe you even find a double major could be the best route, or that a major track of study along with a related certificate program makes the most sense.

Network in All Departments

When you declare a major, you normally get invited to join certain organizations and attend events from a specific department. In turn, you'll often interact with many of the same professors and even some of the same students. However, as an undeclared major, you may have more opportunities to make new friends and meet potential mentors. Who knows, your business ethics teacher might end up writing a strong recommendation letter for you down the road.

Finish General Education Courses

During your first two years of college, you can concentrate on taking general education courses, which will allow you to spend the last two years taking courses you truly enjoy. It could also help you obtain the necessary study, research, and writing skills to succeed in upper-level courses.

Potential Drawbacks of Being Undeclared

While starting college as an undeclared student has many advantages, there are some possible disadvantages as well. For example, some professional or science-related majors have specific tracks of study that take four years of careful planning and class enrollment. If you decide you want to be an industrial engineering major at the end of your sophomore year, but you've only taken a couple of core courses, you may need to take more classes than you intended per semester or push back your target graduation date. In addition, some courses may only be open to students who've declared majors in a particular field, which could limit your class choices at some schools.

Learn more good reasons to start college undeclared.

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