An Open Letter to the Undecided Major

Dear Major: Undecided,

As you approach the end of your high school career, you may find yourself on the precipice of change—from your steady class routine, lifelong best friends, and living at home to a world of possibility known as college. While this is usually an exciting time of life, the transition can be scary too, especially as graduation sneaks closer and closer without your consent.

We hear you. We see you. And while we stand with you as you comb through colleges that best suit your natures and interests, we also want you to know that you don’t have to decide everything right now.

Sure, you may want to decide some things—like if you want to go to a community college or a liberal arts university, a public or private school, a school close to home or far, far away. Those are serious considerations even as you type your google searches. However, if you find yourself overwhelmed by options yet know you want to go to college, take heart that you don’t have to decide your major right now.

Some people emerge from the womb and know they want to be doctors. Or writers. Or computer engineers. Or vigilantes who clean up the streets without permission of the law. Who knows. However, if you aren’t one of those people, feel free to envy their easy choices, but don’t be too hard on yourself. You have time to choose your major, even after you move into your new and shiny school and survive welcome week.

Most schools want you to declare your major your sophomore year of college, so take your first year and get that art class out of the way, or take a film class, or astronomy, or bioethics, or audition for the play. One theatre major at Bethel spent his first year in the nursing program, but after he fell in love with set design, he switched his major from the healthcare field to the arts. Consider your freshman year as an opportunity to learn about yourself a bit while taking advantage of the liberal arts education, because some of the classes you take count toward your major—no matter what it is.

Also, if you’re afraid to commit to a major because you don’t know if you’ll be happy with it down the road, trust that you’re not married to a specific career. Bethel’s Professor of Literature Thomas Becknell completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry and was successful at his job after graduation—but not completely fulfilled. He went back to school to get his Ph.D. in literature and now teaches undergrad English students, promising that it is never too late to change your mind or your career.

You will not be bound forever by your choices regarding your major. Or school. Or your friends even. You may even surprise yourself as you discover what you’re good at or most invested in. And that’s exciting. As Aslan told Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, “Take courage, dear heart,” because you don’t have to set every plan for the next four years in stone. You won’t be disappointing anyone by entering college as Major: Undecided. In fact, you may even thank yourself down the road.


A Fellow Wanderer


At Bethel, the Office of Career Development and Calling will work with you as you seek out an academic path that align with both your skills and passions. And then after you discover you major, their support is available as you enter the workplace too. Strengths tests, interview prep, resumes, networking—they’re there for it all. Schedule an appointment today.