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My Experience as an Undecided Major

There is an unspoken code for introducing yourself in college. It starts with, “What’s your name?” That’s easy enough to answer. 

That question is followed by, “Where are you from?” Again, nothing too challenging there. So far, so good.

It’s the next seemingly innocent question that can cause trouble: “What’s your major?” For most people − those lucky enough to have a semblance of an idea of what they want to do with their life at eighteen − this question doesn’t pose an issue. It’s only difficult for the people who are like me, the ones who have absolutely no idea how to answer, the undecided majors. 

How do we answer? Do we lie and say a major we might be considering? Or do we actually say we are undecided, even though somehow, this seems like admitting defeat. There is so much pressure on college students to have a plan, to know exactly what you want to study. So, this might be hard to believe, but it’s okay if you don’t. 

When I came to college, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to major in. I was overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Unfortunately, I had the ability to talk myself out of every path that I would consider. I felt that by committing to a major I was somehow cementing my future, and I wasn’t ready for that. 

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you aren’t either. I used my first semester freshman year to grow as a person and learn more about who I was. I took a variety of general education classes to see if something would peak my interest, if I would have that a-ha moment. I cannot overstate how important this time was in my experience choosing a major. 

During this semester, I took the time to consider my own desires and interests. There were also a few key resources that I used to help me ultimately choose a major. First is the JMU course catalog. Although it can be overwhelming, this is a great resource to explore all the majors JMU offers. I looked at the ones that interested me and browsed through the classes I would have to take if I chose that major. The next resource I used was my academic advisor. I know it can be super scary to make that first appointment, but it will be so worth it. I discussed some of the majors I was interested in with my advisor, and she helped me narrow down my options. She also introduced me to UNST 102, the exploratory major class. This class only met once a week and the outside work was minimal, but it had a huge impact on my major search. It was there, sitting in a classroom in SSC, that I began to make an internal commitment to a major. With my newfound idea, I went to my advisor, and she helped me enroll in a major class the spring semester of my freshman year. 

As I mentioned before, committing to a major was very hard for me. I had to take a class first to ensure it was even something I liked. Turns out, I loved it. All my searching had paid off. After a month in the class, I finally declared my major in February. 

Now, when people ask me my major, I am proud to say Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication. Before I came to JMU, I had never even heard of this major. So, if you are undecided, like I said before, it’s okay. Use this time to grow and explore different interests. I promise you; you will eventually find a major, and it will feel amazing. The possibilities for your future are endless!

Kate is an undergraduate student at JMU. She is a Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication major with minors in Spanish and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. Kate loves to travel, read, and spend time with friends.
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