It’s okay not to know! What to do if you’re “undecided” 

I still cringe thinking back to my first college fair in high school, talking to a college admission counselor who asked me the one question I dreaded: “What do you want to major in?” 

Panicking, I said the first one that came to my mind, only to be told the college—one of my top choices—didn’t offer that program. Thankfully, he swiftly redirected the conversation instead of just sending me to another school the next table over. From that day on, I decided to stick to the truth: I don’t know. 

Undecided is one of my least favorite terms used in college admissions because the negativity of the word doesn’t reflect reality. As an admission counselor, I love to hear that a student is still deciding on a major because it lets me know they have an open mind. High schools rarely have classes like sociology, biopsychology, or media studies, so how are you supposed to know that’s what you want to study for four years?  

Here are some common worries I hear from my students: 

How do I pick a college without knowing my major?

Do you like where it’s located? Do they offer a strong internship and advising program? Do the current students seem like people you’d like to spend time with? I know students who have made their college choice on how pretty the buildings looked! There are dozens of factors that you can use to figure out fit without knowing your major.

Won’t I get behind? I don’t want to graduate late.

We don’t want that for you either! You can be undecided when you enroll in college and still graduate in four years. Can you narrow down your choices to 3-4 options based on what you’ve enjoyed in the past? Great! Take an introductory class in two of those subjects during your fall semester and two more in the spring. See if those programs have any of the same required courses. For instance, math courses are required for almost every STEM program, so that would be a good place to start. If you still can’t decide, talk to your professors about what kind of interdisciplinary options you might have. Confession: this is how I ended up with a major and two minors, all of which I loved! 

“I have to decide eventually.” 

Okay, true. Like many colleges, we encourage students to pick a major during their sophomore year. That gives you an entire year to explore classes that capture your interest and to talk with advisors. You can go to alumni networking events and listen to the people who love what they do — then ask how they got there.  

Katie Brewster is senior admission counselor at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

There are many careers that don’t require a specific major. I’ve known English majors who’ve gone to medical school, theatre majors who’ve gone into sales, etc. Most employers are looking for employees who are good communicators and problem solvers; not just someone with the same major they had. 

College is a time for personal growth as much as it is a time to earn a degree. Your future isn’t undecided, it’s ready for you to explore! Connect with your admission counselor to learn more about how you can explore your academic options at OU. 

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