I have been asked this question many times during the tenure of my academic advising career, and I can tell you that I have always advised the students that they do not need to declare a major right away. Matter of fact many of them wait until they are about to enter their junior year of college to definitively decide which major they are going to pursue.
There are several reasons why I have always advised them to delay their choice. College should be one of the most enjoyable and life transitioning periods of your life. There are many activities and literally thousands of students around you, who are pursuing their life goals and are living away from home for the first time. The first year is usually the period where you will be encountering the most adversity, but that is not a negative component, matter of fact it can be a very positive one, because it will prepare you for what you will be encountering later in life.
At this point of your education you should be focusing on completing your general education requirements. Basically those courses in mathematics, the sciences, humanities and the social sciences, that are needed in order for you to eventually graduate and satisfy the university or colleges requirements to eventually declare a major. This means that you are taking a variety of courses, some which you may never have been exposed to before as a student. These courses the first two years will enable you to explore your skills, strengths, core values and interests. Completing these courses successfully and attaining a good GPA in them, will assist you in getting admission into your major in the future. These general education classes will expose you to subjects and ideas, which you may have never considered before in your life, and you may find something that you want to major in when you reach your junior year. I have encountered many students, who have declared a major early, become frustrated with their decision, and subsequently as a result have had to back track in their education and then find the major they wanted to be in. As a result their time at the university or college was extended for at least another year, or even longer.
There is always plenty of time to declare a major, especially if you are still a freshman, or are going into your sophomore year. You most likely have a general idea of what direction you wish to go right now, and you are beginning to turn your path in the direction you eventually wish to pursue as a future major. But you still have time left on the clock to eventually make your firm decision as to which major you wish to pursue.
Paul recommends the following next steps:
- Review all your current courses. Talk to your advisor, professors and instructors, and individuals who might be part of clubs or organizations on campus to help you to determine which field you would like to study.
- Visit the campus career center and speak with the counselors and staff. See which majors peak your interest and are associated with a future career your would like to pursue.
- Maintain a good GPA in your general college courses, because this will ease your eventual transition into a college major. Investigate which courses you enjoyed and performed well in and determine if majors, related to these classes, is something you would like to pursue when you eventually make a final decision on a major.