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What to Do When You’re an Undecided Major

Take a deep breath. It is completely okay to be undecided on what you want your major to be. Picking an area of study can be extremely daunting. I started my freshman year of college as an undecided major and I’m doing just fine — and you will be too!

When attending a four-year university there is a good chance there will be at least a semester or two worth of general education requirements that need to be completed. This can serve as a buffer, allowing for more time to explore what options are available. With that being said, certain campuses have requirements that students need to be in the program at the start of their schooling (meaning you can’t switch to this major). Be sure to check with an advisor or a member in the admissions/education department.

Two-year universities tend to have students complete their coursework at an equal but more concentrated pace with fewer general education courses. The credit hours you take per semester are equivalent to a four-year university, but there is a possibility your expected graduation date may change, especially if you start school being undecided. So… where do you go from here?

It can be intimidating looking on campus websites and seeing a long list of majors that you have never heard of. I remember vividly being overwhelmed by the number of choices knowing I needed to narrow it down to one. My advice is to have discussions. Talk to peers and family. Talk to students and staff on campus. Ask your college tour guide about their major. Conversations are one of the best ways to hear and learn first-hand about various programs and degrees that you may have not otherwise considered. If anything, through these conversations, you may even be able to eliminate options. In turn, using this deduction process will help make that final decision easier. For example, I don’t enjoy math or business, so I would take majors such as finance, accounting, and business administration off the table.

Visit your advisor. They are meant to guide you and try to provide you with the right resources. Sometimes you just need that push to figure out how you can use your strengths. Advisors can provide advice, answers about major requirements, and help you find the path that is right for you. One website in particular that my advisor recommended is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a wonderful tool for finding out more information about what you can do in specific career paths, projected job outlooks, what cities are hiring, wages, and so on. There are a variety of jobs you can get with one particular degree which is why utilizing these resources can be extremely helpful. For example, I’m working towards a degree in English Education, but I have the option to be a writer, work for a newspaper, be an interpreter/translator, or go to law school. Remember that the major you choose does not limit you to one career path.

If you’re an undecided major start somewhere. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your future goals? For example, if traveling isn’t your thing then don’t consider being a travel nurse. However, if helping people is something you’re interested in then consider being a nurse and working at an office or hospital. Perhaps consider being an educator or caregiver. Take the time to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses you have.

Most importantly, pick something you love. College is a huge commitment and requires effort, time, and money. There is no point in going to school and not being happy with the degree you are working towards. If that means you spend extra time researching and don’t pick a major right away that is okay. I can guarantee you will be glad you took the time to find and choose something you are passionate about.

When you’re an undecided major take the time to research and ask questions. Explore all your options as each school will offer varying programs and majors to choose from. Trust your instincts. Keep in mind that a major is just a major. There are more people than I could even begin to count that work jobs that don’t line up perfectly with their degree. Always remember that it is okay to not be sure what you want to do and, if you change your mind, that’s alright too. What matters is finding something you are passionate about that will best suit you and the life you want to create for yourself.  

Lynn Merigold

Illinois State '23

Hi! My name is Lynn, and I am so grateful to be part of the Her Campus team! I am one of the Editors-in-Chief for Her Campus Illinois State. I enjoy writing articles about lifestyle, mental health, education, and wellness!
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