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  • Choosing a major can feel overwhelming especially when you don’t know what you want to do or study. You are not alone and it’s okay to start college undecided!
  • Take the time to look for schools that offer flexibility, support, and academic options for you to explore.
  • Use My College Plan to compare careers and earning potential with different majors. It can also help you match up your skills and interests to different areas of study and career paths.

Choosing where to go to college is a big decision, followed very quickly by another—what to study. Selecting the right college major—one that aligns with your interests, abilities, and career goals—can help shape your college experience and prepare you for the future. However, if you're like most people, you may be feeling some pressure to choose a major when you’re not 100 percent sure of what you want to major in right away, or you could be having second thoughts about the trajectory you were planning to follow.

Many students enroll in college not knowing what they want to major in. According to a survey of US students, about half are confident in their career path when entering college, and two-thirds feel overwhelmed by the process of choosing a major. What’s more, about half of students surveyed changed their major at least once.

If you’re having a hard time picking a college major, here are some strategies to help set yourself up for success as an undecided major.

Find a school that encourages exploration

The good news is that most college programs are designed to let you do some academic exploring before selecting your program of study. Look for schools that encourage students to declare a major after having completed their sophomore year. At these schools, students take the bulk of their core classes—the courses that are required for all students regardless of their major—during their first two years. This approach allows students to get a sampling of different subjects, and oftentimes, it's how they discover the right major for them. When you start school, connect with an advisor who can help you map out your classes in a way that lets you fully explore your interests and still meet the requirements to graduate on time.

Consider colleges with a breadth of programs

As an undecided student, search for colleges and universities that offer a vast array of majors, minors, and other programs. The more classes and majors a school offers, the more opportunities you’ll have to explore subjects you may not have been exposed to in high school and find courses you excel in or enjoy. And if you have multiple interests, make sure the school you choose has a wide offering in those areas as well. To assess a school’s academic offering, go online to check their course catalog, along with academic requirements for any major you may be interested in.

Look for colleges that offer flexibility between majors and programs

While most schools don’t require students to declare a major during the application process, some schools do. For example, some professional tracks or STEM programs may require you to declare a major and apply directly to the program so you can take required classes during your first year. This may make it hard to get into a program or complete it on time if you don’t enter as a freshman. Find a school that will allow you to easily switch majors or enter into a program from an undecided major. Reach out to the admissions office of the schools you’re looking at and ask them how they support and guide undecided students, and how easy or difficult it is to switch majors or transfer into programs within the college or university.

Attend free information sessions

Many college host free information sessions that go beyond the general school overview and tour. These events allow students to get an in-depth view of specific academic programs being offered. They cover topics such as pre-requisites, required course work, career paths, and more. Attending these events, whether in-person or virtually, can help you figure out if a particular program could be a good fit and whether you think you would enjoy and succeed in the required classes. This may also expand your ideas about types of careers and give you access to faculty, alumni, or even current students who can answer questions you may have about the program or career paths.

Enroll in an academic summer camp

Many colleges and universities offer special programs, seminars, and camps over the summer to help high school students explore a specific major and the various fields within. Depending on where you are in the college planning process, it may not be too late to take advantage of these opportunities that are designed to give you a better understanding about a potential field you’d like to explore and the career paths you could follow. These programs challenge you to test your abilities, determine what you’re good at, discover what you like and dislike, and visualize if you can see yourself doing a certain job in the future.

Network for more intel

Don’t be afraid to talk to people who are working in the fields you’re possibly interested in, solicit their advice, and possibly shadow them at work. It can seem intimidating to ask people for their time, but more often than not, people are happy to share their experiences and provide you with real-world insights about their jobs and career paths. Ask friends and family members to help you make connections or tap into your high school or college alumni network. The learning you get from these connections can be real eye-opener and may even help you secure a volunteer position or internship in the future. Actually working in a field can help you “try on” a potential career, giving you invaluable exposure, experience, and skills.

College advisers can also help you understand what a major will entail. You should speak to them along with students and professors in the majors you're considering for some additional input as to what the courses are like, what you'll learn, and what your expected outcome will be.

Keep an open mind

It may feel like the adults in your life, or even your peers, are constantly asking what you’re planning to major in, or what career path you intend to pursue. But you don’t have to have an answer right away. Don’t be afraid to start school undecided, or to pivot as needed along your educational journey. But if you end up changing your mind, try not to wait too long to switch tracks. Switching majors can potentially delay your graduation date, so you don't want to do so impulsively. But you also don't want to wait too long if you know in your heart a change is necessary.

As you continue to explore your academic options, a tool like My College Plan from Discover® Student Loans can help you compare careers and earning potential with different majors. It can also help you match up your skills and interests to different areas of study and career paths.

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