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It’s ‘deciding,’ not ‘undecided’

Picking a major for many is a daunting decision and full of outside pressure. But being ‘undecided’ is a scary place when it doesn’t really have to be.

We’ve all heard it: “So, what’s your major?”

This question can mean an awkward moment for many college students out there who don’t have an answer.

Some students will turn it into a joke. “Well, that’s a very good question,” or “Well, my major is pending.”

However, we all know we can only joke about it for so long. Eventually, we are going to have to pick a major in order to work towards it and graduate.

No pressure or anything!

I mean, our major will only determine what path our future career will follow, what we’ll be doing for the next 40 years, what kind of house we will be able to afford and what kind of lifestyle we’ll be able to lead. Right?

Wrong! Picking a major is not a major life decision.

Did you know that 90 percent of jobs are not determined by what major you had in college? Karen Socher majored in political science, now she works in the music industry. Darren Star was an English major and later he went on to create hit television shows like “Melrose Place.”

The types of jobs you will be able to enjoy are not dictated by your major. So you can take “picking a major” off your “major life decisions list,” right next to “picking who you will spend the rest of your life with.”

Employers value work experience, computer skills, time management and answering the phone professionally much, much more than whether you majored in IPC or creative writing.

However, there is a lot of pressure put upon college students, especially incoming freshmen and sophomores, to pick the “right” major as soon as possible and get going on it.

More than that, many times there is an unspoken fear of being “undecided,” as if it were going to rear its ugly head and strike you down into the sweltering pit of indecisiveness.

This kind of pressure can make college an incredibly scary place to be. Why else do so many high school students dread graduation? I find it hard to believe it is because they would rather stay in high school. It’s because they feel the pressure of planning the next 40 years of their lives by next fall.

Now, I’m not pretending that picking a major is not an important decision, and one you should make as soon as possible. However, do some research and discover what you’re going to enjoy. You work harder and earn better grades when you enjoy what you’re doing.

Don’t be afraid to be a “non-major” major in the beginning, and ask for help.

It isn’t a negative thing, but a positive. Two of my professors told a class of mine recently that a college student is never “undecided” — they are “deciding.” And, “deciding” is the smartest way to go.

Here’s an all-too-familiar situation to illustrate what I mean:

Everyone’s laying it on thick for you to pick a major, so you pick a major. You’re pretty sure you’re interested in it; you continue working towards it.

Then, one or even three years down the road you change your mind when you have a clearer vision of what the career actually is. Now you’re faced with a decision. Stick with a career path that isn’t suited for you and graduate on time, or choose a different major and spend more time, energy, and money at the University.

On the other hand, say you spend your first couple years “deciding,” exploring all the different majors and careers available to you, recognizing and developing your own personal strengths and end up making an informed decision on a career path that will best suit your values and goals in life.

There are tons of people willing and waiting to help you. We don’t have an office at our University labeled the Career Center for nothing! They’re there to work with you personally, to help you find a career path that will coincide with your interests, abilities, values and personality.

The Career Center is located at 300 Saddlemire, where you can obtain information, take self assessments and even talk one-on-one with someone if you choose. You can also find them on-line,

For Honors students, the Honors center at Hanna Hall is always very helpful as well.

Don’t be afraid to take your time in picking a major, just to avoid the daunting “undecided” milestone. Do your unassigned homework, discover what your passion is, what your strengths are and take time to decide to pursue something you enjoy now rather than change later.

E-mail Jessica with comments at [email protected].

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