I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I didn’t declare a major until my sophomore year at the University of Rhode Island. I came into college worried that I was already behind, and that everybody had decided on a major long ago. I feared I wouldn’t find something that interested me and I would end up settling, living the rest of my life unhappy and regretful. Here’s another secret: 17-year-old, melodramatic me was completely wrong.
As a freshman, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and unprepared. You are thrown into a whole new environment, away from the familiar and ordinary. Suddenly your parents who used to be across the hall are now 3 hours away. Your best friend who you sat next to in class the past 4 years is now sitting in a building in the next state over. Your teachers become professors and raising your hand to go to the bathroom in class becomes a tell-tale sign that you’re a new kid on campus.
With all these changes and adjustments, freshman are also weighed down by the stress-inducing question: “So what’s your major?” The question that students get asked on a daily basis, reminding them that this decision will have a significant impact on the rest of their lives. The question that causes more stress than the 10 page paper they were just assigned.
The truth is however, you don’t need to know the answer the question yet. You’re 17, maybe 18 years old. You are making a decision that will impact the rest of your life – don’t rush into it. Many freshmen have this idea that all the other students have it all figured out – I would know, I believed this too as a freshman. They believe that all these students who have already declared have been working towards this major since they were a little kid. In actuality, a good portion of those students who declared as a freshman will change their major. They may change it twice, even three times, and that’s completely fine. Just because you are undeclared doesn’t mean you’re behind in college. It’s not a race, and if it takes you an extra semester to determine what you want to do the rest of your life, that’s completely okay.
Since this is a common theme among students, URI has established an abundance of resources to help to determine what major best suits your interests. With professors and staff ready to help, there are many different routes you can go to find the right guidance for you. If you are having trouble determining your major, talk to a professor. If you feel comfortable with them, they are a great resource to help you work towards your goal. Another place to check out is The Center for Career & Experiential Education in Roosevelt Hall. On weekdays from 9am-4pm, you can stop by for walk-in career advising or sign up online. There, you will be given expert advice on the best majors to consider based on your skills and interests. Additionally, you can go onto their website and explore their online resources offered to students.
If you are still having trouble and need some extra help, URI offers a class to help you realize where your strengths and skills lie. This one credit class, Career Development Seminar, is listed as EDC 279 and offers students the chance to look deeper within themselves through surveys and reflective analysis to see what career their skills and ideas would work best in. This class is designed to not only help students determine a major, but rather to help them start considering a career path.
Freshman year is an exciting, yet scary time. With so many new beginnings, students can easily feel overwhelmed. The next time you start having a meltdown about being undeclared, just remember that you are not alone and you have options. Everybody wants you to succeed here, and if you utilize everything URI has to offer, you will.