The stress of being undecided

_Isabella_Gentile_, _Features_Editor_

The most dreaded question I have heard in almost every icebreaker so far at college is “What is your major?”


When the girl to my left says she’s always known that she wanted to be a doctor, and the boy on the right claims that music was his path from the start, I am left with the angst of wondering what I am going to do with my life.


I am an an undecided student — and completely, at that. Many students here are undecided business, or undecided engineering; however, my label stands as “Undeclared Liberal Arts.” I am still just a freshman, so I have some time left to decide on an initial major, but there is not a field that I am definitely planning on going into no matter what I pursue within it.


Going from a rigidly set schedule of required courses each year and asking to use the bathroom to the world of freedom that is college is a significant jump. I will never understand how 18-year-old students are expected to know what what they should major in and what their life plans should be after just being controlled in most aspects of life a few months prior.


The school is not the only culprit in adding stress to undecided students. The number of times that I’ve told people about my uncertainty and heard the line, “Oh, you’re one of those kids,” increases with each trip home. Older generations think that it is silly to enter college undecided, considering the absurd tuition costs these days.


To some degree I understand this point; college costs are absurd and young adults are drowning in debt from trying to pursue higher education, so why pay for schooling when you are still unsure of what you want to do in life? For me, the answer is simple: Just because I do not know what I want to do yet does not mean that I do not want to immerse myself in the college experience and try to discover my path along the way. Truthfully, is that not the point of an institution like this, to try out different courses and see what really connects with you?


An issue with the traditional perspective is that it does not capture the entire picture. I may be undecided, but I have had more time to complete the university’s required classes, almost all of which I will have finished by the end of this semester. Benefits do arise on occasion, despite the constant uneasiness when thinking about what will be the best career for me.


My status as undecided is not to convey that I have absolutely no idea what I am interested in or what avenue I should follow. Legal studies, political science, and English literature touch upon a few areas that I am interested in. All of this being said, however, I am not prepared to say for sure whether I want to be a professor, lawyer, or even something outside of that box.


What I do know is that being undecided comes with a clock that is steadily ticking down. I recently receved an email from Senior Academic Advisor Karen Johnson that read, “I noticed you have not yet declared a major and sophomore students are supposed to declare a major by the end of the first semester of sophomore year. Please come to the Peer Advising and Mentor office to make an appointment,” which forced me to acknowledge that I would soon have to make a choice, even if only a temporary one. As I decide on a field this week that seems semi-right for me, I assure you that the anxiety of choosing a way of life has not disappeared; it will likely remain worrisome until I am holding a degree in my hands.