Being undeclared isn’t a bad thing

Trinity Carey

Veterinary medicine, psychology, teaching—my subject interests vary widely. Choosing a major to dedicate four years of my time and thousands of dollars on seemed like a question I would never be able to answer. Beginning my journey at Northern, I had no idea what to study and I wasn’t sure how to figure it out.

So I went in blind. While filling out my college application, I checked the major option: “Other” and hesitantly wrote undeclared in the space provided.

I was undeclared my first three semesters in college. I never thought one day I would be more than confident to say so. Now I actually think it’s the best place to start at a university and I highly encourage others to begin their college career undeclared as well.

There’s this common misconception that if you don’t choose an area of study right away you’re unmotivated in achieving a higher education, won’t be able to commit to four years at a university or are just wasting money taking unnecessary credits. But the fact of the matter is eight in 10 college students end up changing their major at least once before graduation and on average most students actually change their major up to three times, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Choosing an area of study upon first entering college can actually leave students at risk of taking unnecessary and costly credits, not coming in undeclared. For me, not choosing a major was the best thing I could have done.

By not choosing a major before even experiencing day one at a university 20 times larger than my high school, I was able to figure out what I find undoubtedly enthralling to learn about. By the beginning of my fourth semester, I became an English major with a journalism minor.

I took entry-level courses in every field of my interest, while also taking basic credit classes that knockout those liberal studies division requirements we all need to complete for graduation. I’ve taken many courses that in no way now pertain to my major, like Intro to Physics, PH101 and Physiological Psychology, PY204.

But by not picking a major right away, I was able to figure out the difference between what I’m moderately interested in and what I’m truly passionate about studying and want to find a career in.

Coming to school undecided gave me just what I needed, time and a trial run in some pretty far-off courses. I didn’t waste any credit hours, time or money by not picking a major right away, I just realized the importance of taking time in finding your passion.

Returning home for breaks I began to dread hearing my Grandma Karen ask, “Have you picked a major yet, sweetie?” as my family gathered around the turkey. Telling others you’re undeclared is typically responded with various replies of ‘Ohhh I see’ and ‘Well what are you thinking about?’ to which you just want to reply ‘I honestly have no idea.

That’s why I’m undeclared,’ but instead you say something like psychology, so the conversation doesn’t end abruptly and awkwardly. This conversation with every relative and family friend quickly became the bane of my existence, but now looking back I wouldn’t change my choice of being undeclared.

It’s hard to begin college when the world thinks you should know what you’re doing with your life, but the reality is you can’t balance a checkbook and would rather be sick for a month than have to schedule your own doctor appointment.

Being undeclared in the beginning of your college career allows students the time and experience to figure out what it is they would like to study without signing up for unnecessary credits. Just because you’ve now gained the title of a college student, doesn’t mean you have to have every aspect of your life figured out just yet.