Applying for college is stressful. Applying for college and not knowing what you want to study is even more stressful. Let’s not mention the fact that most of your friends probably have majors and can’t understand why you can’t “just pick a major already!”
As I kid I never saw why I had to choose either math and science or history and english- I liked them both. To top it off, I never had significant career aspirations beyond my childhood dream of scooping ice cream for Ben & Jerry’s. It came as no surprise to anyone then that when it came to my major, the only thing I was 100% decided on was that my major was undecided.
As a decidedly undecided major, I felt a lot of pressure coming into college because I'm not a spontaneous person and my major was based on spontaneity. I wished I had some sort of distinct passion to pursue, specific talent, or calling to follow- but I didn’t. Adults would lecture me on how young I am, and how much time I had but I still felt as though a decision date was looming over my head. Which it kind of was. Most schools, including UOP strongly urge you to get it together by the end of your sophomore year.
I’m here to tell you that it will be okay. You will pick a major. And not to sound like every adult but you do have time, you don’t need to know exactly what you want to study, and chances are your friends don’t know exactly what they want to study either.
At Pacific we like to make you feel a little better by renaming undecided majors, "Exploratory". If you are part of the 25% of Pacific students coming in without majors, take advantage of your “Exploratory” title and do as it suggests: explore.
I recommend you start knocking off your general education, or GE requirements as soon as you can (first semester freshman year). With that said, don’t just explore random classes that you think you might like. Thoughtfully choose a variety of classes that interest you to fulfill graduation requirements. You might decide that anthropology is not for you as I did, but hey I could cross that major and diversity requirement off the list. This will make things a lot easier for you in the long run. Senior year you will thank me later when you’re graduating on time with a manageable course load.
It’s also a good idea to look at the lower level courses required for the discipline you are interested in and maybe try your hand at one of those classes. For example, I thought I wanted to study something in the business school so I took an econ class. I didn’t take it to fulfill a GE requirement, but because I would need to take it no matter what major I chose within the business school. This way, when I finally declared myself as a business major, I was able to jump into mid-level courses rather than starting with traditionally first year courses during my second year of school.
In addition, I recommend you reach out to your advisor and use them as a soundboard for your ideas. If you’re anything like me, one second you’ll decide you want to be a sportscaster and the next you’ll want to study abroad in Morocco (true story). It’s okay to be all over the place and to have a bunch of different goals but sometimes your advisor can help reel you in and make sure you’re on track. There are many advantages of going to small school, one of which is the relationships you can cultivate with your professors. Don’t be scared to meet with your advisor, but also don’t be afraid to reach out to other professors in fields you may be interested in. They are additional valuable resources for you as you consider what jobs are available with each major- which leads me to my third point.
A major does not define a job.
You don’t need to go into a field knowing what job you want to pursue. Just because you are an English major doesn’t mean you are going to be an English teacher. English majors can go on to work in corporate America too. It all depends on where you want to take your career. This was my biggest roadblock when figuring out what to study. I felt that I needed to have a job in mind when I chose my major. Although it is wise to have some long-term goals, choosing a major does not mean you are locking yourself in to a particular career.
Finally, no one has ever graduated as an undecided major. You’ll figure it out, I promise.
And since you may be curious, I declared my major at the end of my sophomore year. I decided on business with a marketing concentration despite having never taken a marketing class. I had however consulted with my advisor, a few professors in the business school, a couple of friends who were marketing majors, and came to the conclusion that marketing seemed to encompass a lot of things I enjoyed learning about. I’ve never looked back since.
Looking for GE recommendations? Curious about my journey as an Exploratory student? Feel free to email me!