Stats that Show It’s OK to Start College with an Undecided Major

Posted by IPFW Admissions Team on 7/4/17 4:30 PM

You saw the question coming before the conversation even started.

“Congrats on going to college! So, what’s your major going to be?” 

It’s like all of the well-meaning people in your life come pre-programmed with that annoying question. Someone’s going to college? Ask about their major!

Unfortunately, people sometimes react strangely when you tell them that you’re keeping your options open so you can explore the opportunities at school. They think everybody (and especially you) should pick a major right away and stick with it.

Good news: Your educational life doesn’t need to work that way. In fact, not picking a major before getting to college can actually work in your favor.

You’re Not Alone

In fact, you’re almost in the majority. Although a lot of students start school with a major in mind, national statistics say as many as 50 percent of students are undecided. That means you’re in good company.

What about those people who know in their hearts that they’re destined for a particular field? It turns out that by the end of their freshman first year, a quarter of students change their minds about their field of study and switch majors. And overall, about 80 percent of American students change their major at some point during their studies, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Discovering Yourself

A big part of attending college involves expanding your perspective and discovering what’s out there in the world. Use some time your first year (or even two years) of college to do that. 

With many majors, the serious work for your degree doesn’t begin until your junior year anyway, so invest your early collegiate time in finding what works for you. 

Get involved in student organizations. Run for student government. Look into opportunities to study overseas. Join an experiential learning opportunity. The more things you try and the more people you meet along the way, the better you’ll understand your interests.

Wisdom Beats Speed

Making a wise choice for your major is more important than making a fast one. Lots of people think that picking a major early and doggedly sticking with it is the key to graduating in four years. Sure that can help, but a report published by the Education Advisory Board suggests it’s not an absolute rule.

The study found that students who changed their major – even if the change happened in their senior year – were actually more likely to graduate than those show-off students who started their degree with a major in mind. In fact, 25% of the students who settled on a major during their senior year still graduated in four years.

Obviously, there’s room for you to stretch your brain a bit and see what’s out there for you.

The Bottom Line

Don’t feel like you have to choose your major by the start of freshman year; stats show that even if you did, you would most likely end up changing it after a year or two anyways.

Looking for some “major” guidance? Download our free “Majors and Careers 101” e-book. It might help you find the path that’s right for you.

Get the Majors and Careers 101 Guide


Topics: Choosing a Major





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