Benefits of Starting College Undeclared

The first semester of college can often be frustrating for students without a major. Think about it: you are encouraged to take general education courses, but you can still feel rushed to figure out just what you want to do with the rest of your life. Some students might think because they do not have a major yet, they are wasting their time at school- but don’t feel that way. What many undeclared students don’t realize is they are not alone. Not even close.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2003-4, more than a fifth of college students were enrolled with an undeclared major. This reveals that many students are struggling to find their career passions before or at the start of college. However, the students that start college undeclared are encouraged to take Liberal Arts courses and to explore the different majors. This is an advantage because the undeclared students can concentrate their time on those Liberal Arts courses and not have to worry about their GPA for their major just yet.

Undeclared students also have more time to weigh out their career options. Since these students are not dedicated to one major, they can research and learn about all of the majors at their school and spend at least one semester exploring their options. In other words, the undeclared students have time to find their career identity by examining themselves, their interests and their life goals.

Though some students might want to choose just one major, many schools have the option of a Liberal Arts major. This is often where you get to create your own major based on career goals and interests. Contact your school’s Registration Office to see if this option is available for you.

If you are not comfortable staying undeclared for very long, though, here are some ways to figure out which major is the right one for you:

Go to the Major and Minor fairs on your campus.
At these conventions, students gather to learn about the different options they have for potential majors. They learn about what types of careers are offered for certain degrees and what the graduation requirements are for that specific major.

ŸTake an Interest Inventory Test.
Visit with a counselor on your campus and see if they have a sample test that you can take. The purpose of these tests is to find out what interests you have and which career fields those interests correspond with. There are many different versions of this test and some can even be found online.

Take advantage of your Freshman Seminar class.
Not only will you be in a class full of other undeclared students, but your professor will discuss options that you have on your campus for majors and minors and help you find the right ones for you.

Do some research.
Go online and research some of the fields that you might be interested in. Find out what certain professionals do, what their salary is, and what qualifications you need for that particular career.

Think for yourself.
Take some time to think about what you really enjoy doing and what you are good at. Think about your hobbies and interests. Is there anyway that you could turn those into careers?

Visit with Career Services on your campus.
See what majors are available at your school and what career paths people take with degrees in those fields. If you happen to learn something that you are interested in, ask questions about it and ask for resources the center has for it.

Whether you start college with a major or not, don’t be afraid to explore your career options and take your time. After all, if you get it right the first time, you don’t have to do it again.


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