Choosing the Right College with an Undecided Major

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CoCo 130820 0465 1 When I begin talking with families about a university list, many parents lead the particular conversation with the question, “How do we choose the right college if my child is undecided about what major she wants to study? ”  I tell these parents that for a minimum of 80 percent of students, major shouldn’t be a main driver within where they pick a college. The reason why?

American higher education is exclusive in many ways, and one of those is the concept that students ought to attend college using a goal of exploring many subjects in order to figure out what they want to study. They do not need to begin their university education and learning with a set course of action. To reinforce this idea, most colleges don’t request students to ultimately declare a major until the end of sophomore yr. And many also require quite a few preliminary courses, not only to give students an even more robust general education, but in order to let them see what subjects may pique their interest.

Most Students Change Major at Least Once

Research shows that upwards of 60-70 percent of students will change their own major at least once during college, which begs the question of why anybody would pick a college for a reason that has a large likelihood of changing?   Most schools (even small ones) have so many majors to choose from it’s not imperative that you know what you want to study before you decide to unpack your bags freshman yr.

I am a perfect example of the necessity for exploration. I’m not a science or math person, then when I went to find courses to satisfy those course requirements in university, I looked for the least science-y courses I could find. That’s how I discovered Psychology 101.   Lo and behold, I ended up loving the course and ultimately ended up declaring psychology as my major.   Ironically, the subject matter I actually bemoaned having to take ultimately had been what led me to my future major.

I should also note that for many—myself included—what we study is not always what we end up “doing” with our lives. My work as an educator is more a product of getting been a tour guide within college and Inter-sorority Vice President (which led me to getting the Masters in Higher Education) compared to having been a psych major.   There are definitely jobs that require a certain major; engineering comes to mind.   However for so many jobs these days, what you researched in college isn’t always directly related to your career. So , for those parents who are worried about having a child select “undecided” on their application, fret not really. Janet Reno was a chemistry major and Julia Roberts was pre-vet. You just never know what might happen!

Karen Spencer is part of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Karen previously worked as a mature admissions officer at Georgetown University and Franklin & Marshall University.

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