Colleges

College Programs: Do I Have to Declare a Major?

Take a moment and think back to the summer before you started high school. You had just finished middle school and were looking forward to a brand-new experience. Do you remember the things that concerned you? The worries you had about high school? Whatever your personal experience, it is certain that high school has changed you. You are much different than that kid who spent the summer wondering what high school would be like. You’ve made new friends. You’ve discovered new talents and new interests. This is the time in your life when you grow into yourself. The changes and growth you’ve seen over your high school years will continue on into college. You will continue to grow and learn, discover new talents and interests, and you might change a little too. Certainly, your perspective will change and widen as you experience college life. It’s not too surprising, in the midst of all these life changes, that you still do not know what you want to do when you grow up!

Some students already know their major, why don’t I?

It is true that some students enter college knowing exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Still, it’s equally true that many if not most of those students will change their major, at least once and maybe twice, before they finally graduate. Not having a major is not a barrier to attending college. This also means that you should not be hard on yourself if you eventually choose a major and then decide to change it later on.

Can I even start college, if I don’t know my major?

Of course, you can! Most colleges allow you to remain “undeclared” for a portion of your college career if you do not know what you want your major to be. Much of the first two years of your college experience will be spent going to “prerequisite” classes, ones required for many degrees. Part of your first two years will also include elective classes, which will allow you to explore a variety of subjects.

Should I have a “gap year” and start college later, when I know my major?

It may seem like a good idea; taking a year off to “discover yourself.” Maybe after that year you’d have a better idea of what you want to do. This path may sound good in theory, but in practice it means that you are statistically less likely to even start college if you take time off between. In truth, the best way to “discover yourself” is in school, where you can try out different classes and learn where your interest lies. Our advice: instead of waiting until you know what your major should be. Just start!

What if I have a general idea what I want to do but not exactly a major?

This is common. You may say to yourself “I know I want to do something with psychology (or business or medical science), but I don’t know exactly what. You can start with a basic degree, say, Business, for example. Later, maybe you decide you like working in the public sector, you could modify that degree from Business Administration to Public Administration fairly easily, and many of your classes will still apply.

How do I choose a school, if I don’t know my major?

The best thing you can do is choose a school that offers a wide variety of degree programs. This way, you have more freedom to choose a major later on. If you know what general field you’d like to study, then you can choose a school that is known for degree programs within that specific field.

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