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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

What your major is in college can often feel like it is a big cornerstone of your identity. I won’t pretend that I don’t take someone’s major into account when I am getting to know them. It certainly can tell you a lot about someone. What you major in determines the people you see regularly, the availability and flexibility of classes you take, the moments in a semester or college career that are harder for you, the path you take post-grad and often and the people you grow close to. All of these factors can be a lot to think about for a 17 or 18-year-old clicking boxes on college applications. 

I remember being so overwhelmed as I scrolled through the options on various application portals. It felt like each time I scrolled there would be something new I hadn’t even considered, and each week I felt myself being pulled toward a different major. It was also unfamiliar territory because it wasn’t something I was told a lot about in high school. For as much college prep as I did, I am not sure I ever had a conversation about the importance of picking a major or what different major’s courses of study look like. So, being the conscientious person I am, I picked Undecided and kicked that can further down the road. Many colleges had advertised this as a popular major. Even when I got to SLU Undecided was advertised as one of the top five most popular majors for the incoming class during Convocation. However, this was not at all reflective of how many Undecided majors actually are here. 

During the first days of college, I immediately felt very isolated, meeting only two or three other Undecided students. I felt like I had been lied to. I felt like I was being singled out for not knowing what I wanted to do with my life yet. It was quite lonely and confusing. I felt pressured to lock myself into something because until I did, a part of my identity would just be this empty, blank thing. Now I’ve come to realize how backward this thinking is. 

One thing that helped me flip my perspective was having conversations with adults in my life about being undecided. Annoyingly, almost everyone’s immediate response after hearing that you are undecided is to say something like, “Oh, don’t worry, you’ll figure it out,” as if you are in this perpetual state of worry and uncertainty. However, some of my more productive conversations with adults continued with them telling me about what they studied in college and what they are currently doing. It is a little unbelievable to think about how different these things can be. And the truth is, these working adults are fully happy with their jobs, even if there is a mismatch between the job and what they studied in college. This demonstrates how what you decide to study in college is really arbitrary. Similarly, many upperclassmen have told me about the various times they switched their majors and how different their college paths look now compared to what they looked like early on. So then why do we put such a burden on 18 and 19-year-olds to decide “what they are going to do for the rest of their lives”? A lot of the time, that is not the decision they are actually making. A college student’s decision for what their major should be is marketed as this major decision, a key you choose that can only unlock a limited number of doors and has no return policy, which is not true at all.

I am not trying to say that picking a major is a bad thing. Far from it! But the way we talk about it should change because there can be a lot of uncertainty involved. It is good to lean into that: only then can you know that you are considering all the possibilities. If you do feel strongly compelled by something–or even just mildly intrigued–it is fine to study that, take a few classes in that and get to know that discipline better. However, if there is some uncertainty, it is okay to not make that major decision into your whole identity. That is just a recipe for an identity crisis the first time you experience any level of shifting in your path. Even shifting what you want to study within a major can feel like a big deal, but only if you let it become one. 

Saint Louis University is a Jesuit institution and as students, we are encouraged to learn for the sake of learning, to dive into topics that interest us and to be inspired. This is also supported by the holistic approach to learning that Jesuits promote, as manifested in the CORE curriculum used, with required courses in a variety of disciplines. With this requirement system set up, it is possible to take CORE classes first, often with focuses on disciplines we have an interest in without committing to a major. The Ignite seminar (or first-year seminar) is a fantastic example of this; it is a requirement for all students but can be taken in any range of courses. Many of the students in my Ignite Seminar found more interest in the English major than they expected because they took an English-style course. This provides a buffer period to better discern your interests before working towards a major.

If you are concerned that you didn’t make the “right” choice, changing majors is much easier than people think. When I added my History major at the beginning of the semester it entailed sending one email and filling out a form. Choosing your major should not be a life-altering decision, rather, it should inspire you, ignite your passions and leave you feeling fulfilled after college. After all, we are paying to be here, so we might as well enjoy our time and leave feeling that we explored and discovered interests.

Study what you love, and if you don’t yet know what that is, there is plenty of time to figure that out.

Writer and Section Editor at HERCampus Saint Louis University (currently at the Madrid campus), double majoring in English and History. Chicagoan, Volleyball player, Survivor superfan, baker, and lover of the band First Aid Kit, puzzles and card games.