Yes, it is okay to be undecided!

Many seniors worry that they have not yet identified what they want to do for the rest of their lives.  The pressure becomes greater as they begin the process of investigating colleges.  Students assume that they are obligated to select their major on college applications, causing undo stress.  One of the most common reasons students procrastinate applying to college is their inability to select a precise major. 

Applying to college as an “undeclared major” is a great option for students who are in this boat.  This option allows college freshmen and sophomores to explore their interests while taking courses that count toward graduation.  Colleges will usually have the student declare their major after their freshman or sophomore year.  Unfortunately, there are several common misconceptions that keep students from taking this option.  Here are four common myths:

1)  “I won’t be admitted to the college I want to attend.”

Fact:  The fact is, most colleges allow students to apply and be admitted as an “undeclared major.”  Many liberal arts colleges that are highly competitive report "undecided/undeclared" as in their top three entering majors. Nationally, colleges report that as much as 50 percent of their students enroll as “undeclared majors.”   Some of the brightest and most energetic students begin college as “undeclared majors.”  The important thing is to identify the areas that interest you most, and be sure to apply to colleges that offer majors in those areas.  This will ensure that once you decide to declare your major, you will be able to remain in the college you chose rather than have to transfer to another school that offers that major.

2)  “I won’t qualify for financial aid.”

Fact:  Students enrolled in “undeclared majors” may apply and receive financial aid.

3)  “I will pick the wrong courses.”

Fact:  Most colleges have advisors that will assist you in selecting the appropriate courses.  The advisors can help make sure that you are taking the courses you need to make the best decision about your future major while also remaining on track for graduation.

4)  “After I choose my major, my credits won’t count.”

Fact:  “Undeclared major” students usually take general courses that are common to most degree programs.  Therefore, once you declare your major, you will be able to use those courses toward your graduation requirements. 

5)  “There is something wrong with me. My classmates all seem to know what they want to study!”

Fact:  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80 percent of college students will change their major at least once.  There is a significant percent that change their major three times!  Do not feel pressured to pick a major just because your friends seem to have their futures all figured out.  Be patient, and take some time to explore.  The fact is, four out of five of your friends will be changing their minds too.