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Is it okay if I don't have a set idea on what I want to major in before I get into college? What disadvantages come with that?

Right now I'm a junior in high school and I'm quite concerned as I have not set my mind on a major for college yet. I do like medicine and would love to join it but I'm not sure if I love it enough for 10 years of medical school! I'm scared I'm going to get to college and then realize that I hate medicine and want to completely switch paths. #medicine #college-major

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JD’s Answer

In this current era of expensive college education, I feel it would be best to have a certain semblance of career goals in mind before embarking on what could be a costly and nonproductive endeavor. Unless you are independently wealthy, higher education merely for the sake of learning can be a misguided waste in terms of time, effort, and yes, money. Do not expect the government to pay for your college education or forgive educational loan indebtedness. If you should remain indecisive regarding career plans following high school graduation, you might consider seeking out opportunities to further life experiences and thus facilitate your decision process. "Internship" jobs in an areas of your interest, volunteer work in local or national projects (i.e.Teach America), or even military service. In this day and age, I feel that it is imperative that one acts decisively and in a timely manner regarding career planning and overall future goals.

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Anh-Hoa’s Answer

1) it's perfectly ok. Just take major as general ed(udation) which will cover all requirements for any field further.
2) The disadvantages are you might end up taking class(es) that you might not need later when you decide what field to explore further. But, nothing is waste, especially in learning. For example, you might not need psychology or sociology for computer engineering major. However, those classes will help you to understand and develop more compassion for other people in life/career.
3) You should volunteer to preview the field that you might be interested in. For example, volunteer in doctor office or hospital for any medical field.

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Hwal’s Answer


I see you asked this question almost two years ago. Hopefully you have more certainty about what you want for a major and a career by now. Lisa mentioned several good advice here, and I myself have found it helpful to see a career counselor for assistance.

Good luck!


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Lisa’s Answer

A great question! One that not enough students think about. As evidenced by these first two answers above, there is no one answer for everyone. Both professional's point of view is valid. However, I believe that having some sense of a career direction you would like to pursue will help guide your direction in college. Money aside, the college drop-out rate has been steadily climbing over the past 10 years.'s t(59% for public colleges, 39% for private in 2015) I firmly believe that giving yourself the time and opportunity to explore not majors, but jobs and careers that are of interest to you BEFORE attending college is a good idea. This is because college is a lot of work and college students who change majors 3 to 5 times cannot graduate in 4 years. They have to keep starting over with required courses. More money, time, effort and some kids get tired of school and just drop out. Here are some options:
1. Take a Gap Year - Divide your year into 3-4 segments. A.Work to build your skills and experience the responsibility of doing a job while saving $$, B.Travel with a structured program - learning about sustainable farming, learning Spanish while building ovens or teaching kids in Peru are some examples, C. Attend a particular college program for HS students - typically offered over the summer. Research now and apply in January - March. Don't wait! I can recommend EF - (Education First) I hosted a 14 yr old from Madrid last summer. Great organization. They offer similar programs for Americans going abroad.
2. Meet with a qualified Career Counselor with experience working with teens and young adults. In my case, I get to know you, discuss some growing industries and career paths, network to help you meet professionals or shadow them on the job.
3. Or, be very careful about the college you choose. Pick one that offers internships or co-ops, is supportive - perhaps offers career exploration class (one or two do) and has a fully staffed Career Services department. Also, don't go to a school that pushes you to declare a major as a freshman or a sophomore, or that makes a big deal about taking some courses outside of the "School of Engineering" or "School of Business" for example. Go on site, visit and ask these questions. Feel free to ask a follow-up question if the system allows you to.