Around December of my senior year in high school, everyone started asking me that dreaded question- “what are you going to major in?” My answer was a certain “Chemistry with teacher licensure.” The only problem was there was absolutely zero certainty in that answer. In fact, I changed my mind three times before I ever even got to the university! And while I was there- 2 more times. I eventually figured out what it is I wanted to study in that season of life, but I probably would have benefited from waiting to declare a major.
Raise your hand if my story sounds a little like yours.
Great! Good to know I am not alone in that.
Waiting to declare a major can be a great opportunity. Students should be able to do this at any 2 or 4 year college, and it is a great way to take extra time to think about what you want to study. But what exactly does is mean to be undeclared? When do I finally declare? How do I figure out what I want to major in? These are all wonderful questions to ask, and hopefully in the next few paragraphs, we’ll be able to figure some of that out together.
First, if you chose “undeclared” as your major, welcome to the majority. It is more than OK for you to be unclear on which direction you want to go in. Second, there are a ton of resources on your campus that will help you figure it out! You aren’t alone!
When you enter campus in the fall, you will work with an academic advisor to plan your schedule. At some universities, your academic advisor will be someone from the department you are in. For instance, Biology majors may have a professor or academic advisor specifically from the Biology department. If you are undeclared, you haven’t picked a major yet, but you will still have to meet with an academic advisor. Most likely, they will be someone from a department designed just for people in the same boat as you.
At Walters State and ETSU, it’s called Student Services
At Carson Newman, it’s called Student Success Center
At University of Tennessee, Knoxville, it’s called the Center for Career Development
It may go by different names but get to know this department!! These people will act as your academic advisors and help you plan your schedule, and ultimately declare a major.
Beyond that, Student Services can meet a multitude of student needs from Counseling, to Disability Services, and Resume/Interview assistance. I’m telling you, these are good people!
HOW DO I FIGURE IT OUT
As an undeclared major, you will have three semesters to really think about what you enjoy.
All these things, along with the guidance of your academic advisor(s), will help you nail down a major in no time!
WHEN DO I DECLARE
Students will declare by the end of their third semester (fall semester, Sophomore year)
If you are attending a community college and transferring to a four year school, you will declare a major when you transfer.
So there you have it. I hope you feel a little better about not having an answer when friends and family ask you “what are you going to major in?” The things that matter take a little time. Getting your degree is no different.
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