Can Students Get Into College With an Undecided Major?
Choosing A Major On Their College Applications Can Be A Difficult Task For Many Students.
The majority of students applying to college barely know which college they want to go to, let alone the career they want to pursue. Next to these factors, declaring a college major for the first time can seem next to impossible.
Luckily, marking “undecided” on a college application is incredibly common for students, and depending on your child’s goals for the future, this decision actually has the potential to work in their favor!
Most Students Don’t Know - And That’s Ok!
Before your child begins the process of applying to college, they need to know whether they intend to declare their major choice as “undecided” or not.
Fortunately, the important thing for both you and your child to know is that being undecided is completely normal. In fact, it’s rare for a student to know exactly what they want to study before they even begin college, and students often choose a major on their application while still being unsure about their final choice.
If your child wants to declare an undecided major, applaud them for being honest and owning it! This honesty about not knowing what they want to study will show college admission officers that they’re self-aware and wise for not wanting to blindly jump into a specific program.
Of course, while being undecided showcases honesty, it also has the potential to change the outcome of your child’s application and the college’s decision. Colleges accept students based on factors that are often out of the applicant’s control, so if a college is looking for more students to fill specific programs, marking “undecided” could work against your child in ways they didn’t expect.
When Do Students Need To Declare A Major?
There are times when the positive parts of declaring a major outweigh the positives of being undecided. Being undecided works well for students who are going to a liberal arts college, who need time to raise their GPA once they start college, or who genuinely don’t know what they want to study.
WHO IT WORKS FOR...
Liberal arts colleges are all about exploration; their curriculums are set up in a way so students take classes from many different academic departments, so being undecided is usually attractive to liberal arts colleges.
For students who state on their college application that they genuinely don’t know what they want to study and they’re perfectly fine with that, marking undecided will serve as tangible evidence and boost your child’s reasons for taking that route.
Marking undecided will also greatly help students who have their eye on a specific academic program, but they need time to raise their GPA before seeking admission. College admission officers may find this desire for growth attractive, and admit the student purely based on their drive and determination.
WHO IT WORKS AGAINST...
However, marking “undecided” on the college application may work against some students. If a student applies to an extremely competitive college that’s famous for specific programs and marks “undecided” under major choice, this will not help the admission officers reviewing their application make a decision.
For a specific example, imagine for a second that your child is applying to a highly competitive medical program. They include all their excellent grades, a glowing essay that talks about their passion for health and medicine, and then under the college major choice, they select “undecided”. This won’t inspire confidence in the medical schools’ admission council; they would just be confused.
In any circumstance, declaring a major gives any application a boost, especially when a student is applying to a competitive university. It shows the admission officers that the student is willing to take a chance on a college major and start taking the required courses sooner rather than later.
Declaring any major within a department that they’re even remotely interested in can also raise your child’s chances of admission over an undecided major. That way, even if they decide to change majors at some point, they’ll be in the right school, and won’t have to worry about taking completely different classes to catch up.
The Pros And Cons Of Being Undecided
Laying out pros and cons can help a lot of students make tough decisions. With one of the toughest being deciding a college major, outlining the pros and cons of declaring an undecided major can help them with the process.
PRO - MORE TIME TO EXPLORE
Being undecided gives students more time to explore their options. Since they’re not held to a particular major, they can take classes in virtually any department of their choosing, and discover what they do and don’t enjoy.
PRO - MORE TIME TO RAISE YOUR GPA
For students who know what they want to pursue in the future, but need to raise their GPA before they can even begin, being undecided might be the best choice.
All students, regardless of major, need to take the same core classes in math, sciences, literature, social studies, and the arts. Every college major has targeted classes that students take in addition to their general courses.
Being undecided will give students the opportunity to focus solely on their general classes, perform well in classes and on tests, and raise their GPA over their first few semesters.
CON - MORE PRESSURE
Overall, being undecided can put a lot of pressure on a student. They consistently feel rushed to choose a major. If your child is already indecisive, then being undecided may actually cause them more stress and anxiety that they don’t need.
CON - RISK OF BEING A “SUPER SENIOR”
“Super senior” is the playful term used for students who stay in college longer than 4 years either due to changing majors multiple times or simply needing more time to complete their classes. Students need to be aware when they begin college as an undecided major, that each semester they spend undecided is one less semester they have to work towards completing an actual major.
Beginning college as an undecided major is risky, but the positive points of getting more time may be just what students need to achieve their academic goals.
Is An Undecided Major Right For Me?
Overall, it’s important to know that being undecided isn’t the right choice for every student. Even if your child has the smallest idea of what they’d like to study, they should choose that major or at least one similar to it in the same academic department.
Fortunately, choosing a major isn’t a binding decision. Students can always change it down the road if they’re ready to stay in college longer than four years or take a heavy load of credits to graduate in time. So, if your child is having a hard time choosing one on their college application, remind them that it’s okay if they change their mind later.
As always, if your child needs any help with their college applications and essays, WeAdmit’s professional counselors are standing by and ready to help them with anything they may need - even developing a pros and cons list of being undecided!
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