Why It’s Okay to Enter College Undecided

Many students and their families assume that college isn’t worth the expense if they aren’t yet sure what profession they want to enter. In reality, college is a great investment if you’re undecided because there’s no place on earth with more opportunities to explore your passions and discover your strengths. President Jo Allen, ’80, shares her thoughts on the benefits of being undecided as you embark on the college search.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Every high school student has probably been asked this question a dozen times before being anywhere close to making decisions about college and professional life beyond.

And very few of us who are now college graduates can say we answered the question with anything close to what we actually majored in or have done with our lives. (I certainly never responded that I wanted to be a college president – and what in the world would I major in to do that?)

Today’s high school students are often hesitant to admit that they are “undecided” about a major and a profession. Indeed, that uncertainty manifests itself in multiple ways: a worry about spending money that may not result in a certain outcome, a reluctance to even explore college, a hesitation about going in one direction and then changing course, a wait-and-see posture that may include a minimum wage job, a gap year, or volunteer experience. Any of these responses is understandable and, for a handful of students, perhaps even laudable.

But the truth is that for most college students, indecision is a part of the college experience. Most of them do, after all, change their majors, add a major, or add/change a minor during their time in college. Many use their indecisiveness during college as the opportunity to explore new subject areas they’ve never studied and, just as often, re-examine a familiar high school subject that suddenly becomes far more appealing.

In short, being undecided is probably one of the very best ways to enter college – and college is certainly one of, if not the very best investment in exploring the world’s offerings and a student’s suitability for those offerings.

Where else can a student test up to 40 introductory and advanced subject areas in just four years? It is practically beyond comprehension to imagine testing that many layers of jobs and not paying harsh penalties in the next job search.

So, if you are undecided about college or major or career, take the time to investigate and call a college admissions counselor – preferably from two or three different kinds of colleges. Ask questions about majors and flexibility and finances. Ask them how they assist students who are undecided about their field of study, and what programs they have in place to help you figure it out.

At Meredith, we use StrongPoints®️ to help you discover your strengths and coach you on how to use them to your advantage. Most of our students come to us undecided, but that doesn’t faze us. Our counselors are trained to help you pair what you’re good at with what you’re passionate about.

Enjoy the fact that you are open to explore. That is, at heart, the definition of a learner. What you may fear as indecisive is actually a hallmark of the intellectually curious. And that is a pretty fantastic way to start a college experience!

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