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Monday, October 25, 2021

A day in the life of a confused, undeclared student

ATTENTION ALL UNDECLARED STUDENTS!

This is a reminder: You are not alone.

I entered college absolutely certain of one thing: I had positively no idea what to major in. It’s pretty common: coming in with an undeclared major and thinking that one day you’ll have that “A-ha!” moment where you realize what you want to do. Those were my thoughts exactly, and now you can find me, a year and a half later, still waiting for that moment to come. Although it might seem easy, being undeclared is a lot more stressful than it sounds.

Here are a few points that every undeclared student can relate to.

  1. The dreaded “what’s your major?” question.

It’s the first day of classes. Sitting down in a room full of strangers, your friendly neighbor decides to make an introduction to you. You strike up a conversation, and get to know each other on a first-name basis. Things are going well, and you think for a second that you’re going to get away with it. Until it, the inevitable question, escapes their lips: “What’s your major?” You reply meekly, “I’m undeclared.” It might not seem like a big deal, but admitting that to somebody you just met is harder than it sounds, especially since saying “I’m undeclared” is basically college terms for “I have literally no idea what to do with my future.”

  1. The “don’t worry, you have plenty of time to decide” response.

This is everyone’s favorite, oh-so-comforting remark to undeclared students. I got this one half a dozen times when I was a first-year. It’s nice in the beginning, but it gets a little old after a while. Want to really make us feel better? Instead of reminding us of the diminishing amount of time we have left to make the decision, pick a major for us. Now that would really be comforting.

  1. The endless appointments with advisors.

One undoubtedly difficult part about being undeclared is the endless meetings with advisors. OK, maybe endless is an exaggeration, but they definitely seem endless. It’s basically like playing a long game of Deal or No Deal, but the answer’s always no deal. And the advisor looks nothing like Howie Mandel. The unfortunate fact is, an advisor simply cannot pick a major for you, no matter how much you want them to.

  1. Talking to enthusiastic adults.

These are the adults that think they can completely figure out your future for you in less than five minutes. Letting these adults know that you’re undeclared will open up a world of questions, the first one always being “Well, what are you interested in?” You will of course politely tell them a few of your interests, and after a few seconds of some serious problem solving, bingo! Lucky for you, they’ve got it all figured out. Serving as your own personal career.com, they excitedly spew out dozens of unappealing major and career choices based upon your interests. The best way to overcome this is to appear interested until they forget exactly whose future they were planning out in the first place.

  1. The harmlessly innocent yet vaguely aggressive major suggestions from your parents.

We all know our parents want the best for us, and that they’d support us in whatever we chose to do. However, those two things don’t always work together so nicely — especially when you’re an undeclared student. They always manage to slip a harmless suggestion or two into a conversation about possible majors. It’s not their fault, it’s instinctual — they just want to make sure you won’t be 30 and still living at home. And although they don’t want to force us, sometimes their suggestions can end up taking a form somewhat more similar to a plead than a simple suggestion. Just the other day I got a text from my dad: “You sure you’re not interested in animal science?” My reply: “You have no idea how much I wish I could say I am.”

  1. The world is your oyster.

An undeclared student’s least favorite saying, basically. The absolutely great thing about going to university is there are just so many choices. So many. You could pick any major from any field you want — you can even double-major. This is a comforting yet terrifying notion. The fact that we have this many choices stresses us out more than anything. Can we maybe narrow it down at least a little bit? I mean c’mon, throw us a bone!

  1. Stuck on General Education classes.

Not having a major also means not really being able to take any classes that aren’t GEs. This leads to schedules full of easy introduction classes and monotonous busywork. After a while we start to forget that we’re not attending university for a general education, even though we generally tend to overlook that if it means avoiding picking a major.

Now, before you have a major meltdown, just know that your fellow undeclared peers are here for you. Our indecisiveness is what links us together, in heart, in soul and in having absolutely no idea what we’re going to do with our lives. And although coming from someone who is decidedly undeclared, this might not seem too comforting: I’m certain we’ll figure it all out eventually!

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