Undecided

TolkeinIdentifying as an Undecided major comes with a certain stigma. It implicates that just because you haven’t decided what you want to specialize in, you’re aimless, unfocused, or even apathetic. Here’s what I have to say about the matter: Who are you to judge? I don’t know exactly what I want to major in and I’m not convinced that everybody else does. On the other hand, I’m hesitant to brand myself “undecided” because I’m afraid that people won’t take me seriously. For instance, a certain alumni interviewer told me that he preferred speaking with kids who have a clear picture of exactly what they want to do, at which point I figured that he must not think much of me. I have a vague conception of where I want to be after college, but that doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out. And isn’t that okay?

Here’s the thing: I’m one of the many wide-eyed, hopeful students that will utter this sentiment: I want to be a writer. Many (if not most) will scoff and write me off as another naive, idealistic student, but it’s truthfully the only thing I find worth pursuing (my only other dream is to be a dancer at Disneyland, but I’m still struggling to work out how that might fit into the landscape of the next few years). As of now, my biggest aspiration is to work at a publishing house or maybe write for a magazine. Truthfully, I’m not quite sure what all of my options are yet and that’s something I intend to discover. I know exactly what I don’t want to do (medicine, law, engineering), but I’m also not totally sure which path will send me in the right direction.

On all of my college apps, I put English as my tentative major. Yet here’s another thing: I don’t want to study literature. It’s comforting that there’s a separate Comparative Literature major, but that makes me wonder what exactly just English will entail. At Cornell, English majors are expected to shape their own degree–that is, to pick a genre or historical period or something else specific to hone in on. Sure, I’m anxious about getting to campus and designing my curriculum. My hope is that I’ll get there and eventually realize what I want to get out of studying English, but for all I know I could end up studying Sociology or Psychology or History and still be equipped to purse a career in publishing. Maybe I’ll change my mind completely! The point is, I don’t know.

I’m not dead-set on a major. Do I seem aimless, unfocused, or apathetic? Though I lack the conviction of some of my peers, I don’t think it’s fair for certain people (namely of the condescending adult kind) to assume that I’m not serious about my education and future. The “undecided” major deserves to be defended because not every student has it all figured out and that’s okay.

~Natalie

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