8 tips for choosing a college with an undecided major
There are many reasons you may not know what you want to study in college. Maybe you focused on finishing classes and scoring well on end-of-year tests. Maybe a professional career seems wildly far out in the future. You may not know what to study simply because you're interested in everything.
You're not the only one. Two-thirds of students feel overwhelmed by the process of selecting a major (Ellucian, 2019). Another third of students aren't sure which major actually aligns with the career they have in mind. This can make the prospect of choosing a college even more intimidating.
Curious about Central Michigan University? Explore our undergraduate programs and what it's like to join our campus community.
Come along as we talk through some important factors to consider when choosing the best colleges for undecided majors.
What does it mean to have an undecided major?
Having an undecided major simply means you haven't decided on a course of study. You don't need a major to start classes in most colleges, but you will need one to complete your degree.
When you fill out college applications, you'll likely have to select an area of interest or intended major. It's fine to get your application in now and decide your major later. Just select "undecided" or "undeclared" for your major of interest and continue with the application.
College searching as an undecided student
Look for what's most important for you and your situation when choosing a college. It can seem tricky to start comparing schools when you don't know your area of study. But, there are many more high-value factors you can consider that can help you find the right fit.
1. An active style of learning
For undecided students especially, a school that emphasizes active learning can make a huge difference in your major decision. Why wonder if you'll enjoy doing something when you can just jump in and test it yourself?
One way to distinguish schools that value hands-on, experience-based learning is to see how alumni do in the workforce. It's no secret that employers want to hire employees with experience. Alumni who have earned experience while earning their degree have an advantage over other graduates without the same experience.
Another way to seek out these schools is to see what kinds of hands-on spaces there are. Look for science labs, research stations, studios, design labs, and performing arts spaces. If large lecture halls seem to run the campus, there may not be as many hands-on opportunities as you'd like.
2. Options for mixing majors
It's likely that your first two years of classes will be a mix of gen ed's (general education credits). These course combos give you a wide base of knowledge to start your college education. Often times what you learn here will spark an interest and lead you on to your major. The right professor can even start you on your career path!
If you have a vague idea of what you'd like to study, consider looking at colleges with meta majors. Meta majors are essentially a group of related fields worked into one major program. Students enroll in a meta major to help bring their career interests into focus.
Another approach is to look for interdisciplinary studies, where you'll craft a course plan from two or more majors of interest. Are you torn between one major and another? Consider looking at interdisciplinary studies.
3. Support for undecided students
It's okay to start the college search without knowing what you'd like to study. The right college will offer classes designed to help you dig deeper into areas that interest you. Look for a strong support system for undecided majors when you're looking at colleges.
4. Program variety
It may seem overwhelming to choose at school that has a long list of programs. But the truth is, a wide variety of programs can be another positive point for undecided students. There will be many programs to consider, but there will also be many experts ready to help you navigate your options.
5. Organizations and clubs that pique your interest
Is there a community or location that you already feel connected to? If your high school offers trips to colleges, take the trip and explore with friends. Being with a group of friends on campus can help you visualize yourself as a college student. If not, scheduling a campus visit is a great way to get a feel for the area.
6. Scholarship possibilities
You may not know the exact amount of scholarship you'll be able to receive until late in the game. But, it's likely that you'll have a ballpark idea of the cost involved. Do your own research on scholarships offered by the university. Some programs, like honors programs, might have tuition estimates ready sooner than general admission.
7. Location on the map
It's important to factor in how far away from home you're ready to live. It's also important to get a feel for the surrounding area. Do you enjoy the big-city feel, or do you lean towards more space and nature? Maybe you want the best of both, with familiar chain stores and public parks within a short distance from campus.
8. What it's like on campus
Campus size, walk-ability and your preferences for the style of housing should play a factor in your college decision too. Do you anticipate wanting to return to your room between classes? It'll be helpful to have a walkable campus that's not too far from your residence hall.
The pressure you may be feeling about this decision is valid. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to get out there and give it a try. Give yourself the time and space to figure it out, and be open to finding answers along the way!
Central Michigan University is located in the heart of Michigan, where you can enjoy city living with close-by outdoor activities. Accessible scholarships, a hands-on approach to learning, 200+ undergraduate programs, and a walkable campus make CMU a strong candidate for undecided students. Students don't have to declare a major until they have completed 56 credits – that means plenty of time to explore. Take a virtual tour, explore programs, see scholarship information and more.