Hello future Wildcat! In a just about a month, you’ll start your new life here at Northwestern University. A lot of big decisions are headed your way. Should I bring a mini-fridge? What color should my shower caddy be? Should I show my roommate my mole that looks just like the Pope? (Yes/Burnt Sienna/show the WORLD)
Out of these, one of the most pressing decisions you’re going to have to make is what you want to major in.
Long ago, society decided, “Hey, you know that time in your life when you’re 17/18 years old, just getting used to the new body hair you’ve received, but still just as confused about everything? We think THAT is the time for you to decide the career path you want to follow FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”
It can be intimidating not knowing your major, especially when you’re surrounded by students who have known their career plan since they hatched effortlessly from their cozy pre-professional eggs. Fortunately, you have this Freshman Guide to Being Undecided to help you out.
1.) Other People
“Oh you’re Undecided? Oh … huh well that’s okay!!!!”
“You know, sometimes I wish I were undecided. So much more freedom! You can do anything!”
You’ll be hearing these things a lot. It’s natural; a major is something total strangers can bond over. Without the small talk about your major, people like that guy your Dad works with and the uncle you never see would be at a loss for words when they meet you! How else can the family and friends of the world connect with the youth of today?
But when it comes down to it, ‘Undecided’ is the ‘Unemployed’ of college majors. (“You know, sometimes I wish I were unemployed. So much more freedom! You can do anything!”)
Talking to other people can be frustrating. As soon as you mention you’re undecided, people drop the small talk and immediately take the noble mission to help this lost soul find their way.
You’ll be asked about your interests and asked things like “you must have some idea of a major, right? Do you like science??” It seems they’re just waiting for you to exclaim “Golly! I just NEVER considered my interests when thinking about a major! It’s all so clear now! Thank you!”
People can be useful though. Don’t seek advice from other people. Rather, ask them about their major/career, and let them tell you about their choices and rationale. Draw whatever lessons you want from their story and enjoy the rest of whatever god awful dinner party you’re at.
Yes, common sense holds true even when navigating the murky waters of CAESAR to sign up for classes. You want to see what’s available, so take on a wide variety of classes. Anything that interests you. Although there’s one caveat: Avoid signing up for intro classes.
Seems counterintuitive right? What better way to be introduced to a subject then through an introductory class? It turns out that intro classes are only good for two things: showing you what feels like to be truly and utterly insignificant, and fulfilling pre-requisites.
So take a smaller class where you can really get a feel if that department is right for you. Oh yeah, and that whole “talk to people and listen to why they chose to study what they did” holds true to professors, too.
Don’t worry. Seriously. There’s enough to be anxious about in life (have we just completely forgotten about SARS??), but your college major shouldn’t be one of them. Your major will not limit your dreams, whatever they may be. Most jobs are looking for people who know how to think, not necessarily whether they have a certain major. Find something you love and just go for it; if all else fails you can look into the drug trade, an MRS degree, or bite the bullet and fucking major in Economics just like 90% of Northwestern.