If you’re a student heading into your freshman year of college with absolutely no clue as to what you would like to do with your life, then we are in the same boat. However, that boat will NOT sink and this will not be a remake of Titanic. Even if I’ve found my major, I’m still one of the most indecisive people in this world and that quality has a large amount of negative stigma attached to it. What if I told you that attending college is exactly what helped me choose a major? What if I told you that many more people (in my opinion) should probably go into college undecided, especially since “almost a third of first-time college students choose a major and then change it at least once within three years,” according to Inside Higher Ed. Don’t get me wrong; I am not degrading students that attend college already knowing their major. However, I do believe a larger emphasis needs to be place on open-mindedness leading up to a student’s college experience. I commend you for coming into college undecided and I would like to share my tips as to how to find your niche, even if you’re undecided as to what that niche is.
1. Give your best effort.
Sure, your relatives, other students, and even your RA may give you pity looks when you share with them the fact that you came into college undecided. Personally, those pitying looks give me more drive and more motivation to find something that I would love to do in the future. Based on personal experience, heading into college with an undecided major allows you to explore so many more organizations, options, and opportunities than the average student. However, this also means since there aren’t specific major courses you will be taking (at least not yet), you need to be prepared to put in effort and hard work, even if the process of “finding yourself” becomes frustrating and seems repetitive. I promise, your older self will thank you.
2. Attend the activities fair.
There are two during the year, one at the beginning of the fall semester and one at the beginning of the spring semester. WARNING: you’re going to feel overwhelmed. There’s no way around that, due to the diverse array of clubs and organizations that all offer free pizza and a chance to “better yourself.” However, now is your time to work up that courage that you’ve kept hidden through your years of shy, high school awkwardness. Have you ever wanted to see what radio is about or have the opportunity to (possibly) have your own radio show? Then check out WIUX, IU’s college radio! Even if you don’t know anything about radio, showing interest is the first courageous step in your journey (do I sound like Gandhi yet?) Or have you ever been interested in the performing arts, especially theatric performances? Don’t be afraid to see what ushering or the technical side of theater is about! This may sound phony, but the more interest you show in a wide range of areas, the more you’re able to narrow down your major choices.
3. Attend meetings.
You’re not going to know if you like the feel of an organization if you don’t attend their meetings and see what they are about!
4. Make an appointment with your academic advisor AND career coach no later than the end of your first month at college.
This helps you list your options, talk to an experienced professional, and ask any questions, even if you think some may be stupid (trust me, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.) It is your advisor’s and career coach’s JOB to help you, and they understand that even though they may have memorized every class offered at IU as well as every opportunity to take advantage of, they understand that you haven’t.
5. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
This step is important, because it’s a challenging thing to refrain from doing. Opportunities to find the best fit for you are all over campus, but sometimes they are difficult to find. The more people you meet, the more knowledge you have. A friend of a friend may be involved with a group of students that are all undecided majors, offering you a chance to connect with different individuals.
6. Be realistic.
If you expect to decide on a major within the first week of college, stop kidding yourself. You’re going to change your mind! What matters most is that you stay on top of yourself each day, each week, and each semester in order to find what fits you best.
I hope these steps laid out a plan that you can hopefully follow in the future. Remember: not having a major right away is not something to be ashamed about. We’re human, and we aren’t perfect. Only John Stamos is.
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