By Catherine Brown–

Every year, hundreds of U of L students declare themselves as “undecided” majors. As a result, many students fall behind or even delay their intended graduation because they can’t meet their flight plan within the traditional 4 years. Here is some insight into how to choose a major when you’re undecided.

First, know your timeline. On the one hand, U of L doesn’t require students to declare a major.

On the other hand, the longer that a student takes to determine their major, the more classes they might have to take beyond the 121 minimum credit hour requirement. The reason for this is because students must earn at least 121 credit hours to graduate, but they also have to fulfill certain course requirements as part of their major’s flight plan. Thus, not every credit meets the flight plan requirements.

However, Daniel Darland, an academic counselor in the Student Success Center, said that a good rule of thumb is to try to choose a major by the halfway point of your student career. Typically, this means declaring a major upon reaching 60 credit hours (traditionally, this would be the end of sophomore year).

Next, brainstorm a list of what you enjoy. What are your hobbies? Do you want to do that for the next few decades? What made you happy in high school?

If you enjoyed science classes in high school and you’re passionate about helping others, consider going into a pre-med track.

If you want to work with kids and you’ve got a background in babysitting, daycare work, or tutoring, consider an education major.

And if you enjoy drafting written work like speeches or marketing copy and you love to write, try communication!

U of L offers around 60 undergraduate degrees and that isn’t even the end. If you know what you want to do in the future but can’t find the right major for you, you can even create your own. U of L’s Individualized Studies program allows students to devise their own major to fit their interests.

When you choose what you want to study, ask yourself why you chose that field. Is it something that you’re interested in and passionate about studying? If not, stop yourself right there.

Are you interested because the career will pay well? If money is a concern for you, consider possible advanced degrees in the field that might get you more money. Look into all financial aid plans. Consider your options.

If you chose the major because your parents expect it of you, then you’ve spotted your obstacle. This takes away your autonomy as a student and instead places your education in the hands of others. Every student deserves to get an education for themselves.

Furthermore, don’t assume that everything you enjoyed in high school will still interest you in college. Think about whether you can or even want to make a career out of a passing interest. 

Finally, reach out to someone when you’re having trouble. Every student has an assigned “Success Team,” which consists of an academic advisor and a student success coordinator, amongst others. The REACH Center offers many services designed to help students achieve academic and personal success; there are tutors, academic coaches, PAL leaders, and more.

But the most important piece of advice for undecided students is the following: “your major doesn’t equal your career.” You’ll likely hear this from any academic advisor or student success coordinator. But it’s absolutely true. No matter what degree you work towards, your career is a result of your effort and experience, not the words written on your diploma.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal