Opinion | Eliminate the stigma surrounding undeclared majors

Amanda Dunlap, Contributing Columnist

A student’s transition from high school to college can be stressful, especially if they are uncertain about what they want to study and what that decision means for their future. 

I personally found it difficult to hear others be so confident in their majors and having a calling toward a specific career before entering college. During my freshman year I had no real idea of what I wanted to pursue in my academics, but I still declared a major that I was unsure of. 

Without any experience outside of high school, I never understood how I could know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life at the age of 18. 

There is a stigma associated with undeclared majors, despite how common this feeling is among college students. 

This stigma could affect students by making them feel judged by their peers and pressuring them into picking a major strictly for their societal perception.

An estimated 20%-50% of students are undecided when entering college and 75% change their major at least once before graduation. 

It is important to understand that being undeclared should not be misconstrued as not having a clear path for the future. Rather, it should be encouraged for students to take ample time to adjust to college and weigh their interests before making the decision. 

One of the main benefits of being an undeclared major is the ability to focus on and finish your general education requirements such as science, math, literature and humanities courses. 

This benefit could possibly guide you into choosing your major and provide you with a better idea of where your interests lie in your academics. 

Second, being undeclared allows you to be open-minded toward majors that you would not necessarily think of choosing. 

Throughout your college experience, you will meet students from a variety of schools with different majors and minors. In order to determine whether a major is a good fit for you, ask other students about their experience and how they feel about their courses so far. 

Finally, if you have given yourself time to think about your future goals and deliberate on your decision, you will most likely feel more confident about your choice.

If you choose a major that you are unsure of, you take the risk of possibly using a semester or two to determine this, which could result in stress, uncertainty and delayed graduation. 

I would encourage students, faculty and parents to start conversations regarding this topic. The more this subject is discussed, the more normal it becomes for students who may feel anxious about being undeclared.

Resources and advising specifically for undeclared majors should be offered at every college. These resources should always be made known at events for new students and should be easy to find. 

The Capstone Center for Student Success offers a program for incoming students called Exploring 4 Success. This program uses academic advising to create success plans and provide academic support to help guide students to the discovery of their major at the conclusion of their freshman year.

At the end of the day, this stigma should not exist, as everyone has a different timeline. The timing of this decision should not call for judgment or the opinions of others. Eliminating the stigma surrounding undeclared majors requires a mindset of acceptance and understanding that just because someone’s timeline may differ from yours does not mean it is wrong.