Life seems to make us believe that we must have it all figured out – including when it comes to your college major. It can be daunting to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, especially for high school students. We’re here to tell you it’s okay to pump the brakes. You don’t have to know what your end goal is yet.
Is it better to apply as undecided or with a major? Short answer, both options are perfectly okay. There’s certainly nothing wrong with knowing where you want to end up. There are students all the time that walk through the UW-GReen Bay admissions doors with all four years mapped out and stick to their plan, but it’s not uncommon to change majors even if you think you know what you want to do. About one-third of students who had declared a major within their first three years of college changed it at least once. One in ten students even changed it more than once!
So, how do you get from undecided to graduation? We’re glad you asked.
Dip Your Toes: General Education Courses
A great perk of the liberal arts education model is that all students take general education courses – or ‘gen eds’. These courses are designed to broaden the horizons of students, offer a platform for students to sharpen their study skills like note and test-taking, and provide a well-rounded outlook on life and whatever career they choose. Students take classes in several subject areas – like fine arts, science, humanities, sustainability, and ethnic studies – totaling 36-43 credits. Gen eds also come in especially helpful for undecided students, as it provides the opportunity to explore different disciplines!
One unique gen ed requirement at some schools is the First-Year Seminar. At these schools, all first-year students are enrolled in a class that’s specifically designed for students to gain an introductory college experience with communication and study skills, time management, and information literacy – all while exploring a subject that they’re interested in.
When Do I Need to Declare My Major?
At most colleges and universities, a general rule of thumb is to declare your major by the time you’ve taken about 40 credits. This allows you to complete your general education credits, before completing roughly an additional 60 credits within your major program.
Each major and campus may be a little different, but there’s no need to rush into it. When the time comes, most colleges or universities will prompt you when it’s time to consider declaring a major. Until then, take in all the different types of courses you can to find the right path to your academic and professional future.
Your academic support system will be with you from day one. Students are assigned an academic advisor and at some colleges, a faculty advisor, to help guide you toward your goals and career. Together, you can plan your time in college, and beyond, accordingly. Your bachelor’s degree opens the door to your future, you just have to pick the door. You got this.
What Are the Best Majors?
The simple answer is, you have options. If you’re getting deeper into the coursework for your major and you decide it isn’t for you, schedule a meeting with your academic advisor and talk through what’s going on; what you like, what you don’t like, and what other career options you have. Often, your advisor or the Career Services office can take what you’re saying and help point you in the right direction to refine and meet your goals.
If you’re really unhappy with your major, it’s okay to change it. If that makes you panic, remember that you don’t have to make these decisions alone. Your support system is always there for you and can help you find the right track. You won’t be the only one who switches a major once, or twice!
Remember, this decision is about what you want to spend your work life doing. It’s a life-long process of learning and developing, both in higher education and in your career, and you’re bound to pivot a time or two. You’ve got time, and if you take that time, you’ll find a major and career that you will enjoy!