There is a common perception in today's society that it is fine not to know exactly what you want to do with your life as a teenager. We are encouraged to think about the future, but less emphasis is put on knowing definite answers. Why, then, are today’s high schoolers pressured to pick a major for college?
Choosing the right college creates enough stress, and adding the pressure of picking a major is simply too much. Studies show that although many students decide on a major during the admissions process, almost 80% of those kids change it at least once in their undergraduate career, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of having high schoolers pick a major so early on. There is nothing wrong with applying as undecided.
Furthermore, placing less emphasis on picking a major could make deciding on a college easier for students. Students often focus too much on a field’s ranking within a school only to change their major or miss out on other potential options.
Majors may be beneficial in that they give students direction and even help them in picking courses during their high school and college careers, but it doesn’t mean that all students should be pressured into deciding on a major before applying to colleges.
It may be more effective to give students the option to pick a major later, and put less shame on being undecided. Given this, schools could be more flexible to changing a major without having it be so costly. Some majors, such as engineering, are so strict that switching is not only expensive but also can mean adding an entire year onto a college education. There is nothing wrong with making a switch in your first year of college or even deciding after exploring different options.
In fact, using the time to decide on the right college for you personally based on your interests and personality may lead to a better outcome. Once you attend the actual school, you should use that time to explore various fields and majors to make the best choice possible with enough information and time.
In my personal experience, it has been hard deciding on a major when I don’t even know what some of the choices are. There are so many options, yet high schools do not expose students to all of these options. While we have the option to choose electives based on our interests, they do not cater to specific majors, and many classes do not prepare us for life outside of high school. If we are going to keep the pressure of picking a major, schools should at least give students more preparation in understanding them through career-based elective courses.
Ultimately, high schoolers are forced into deciding on a major too early on without the right preparation leading up to admissions, and this should be altered to alleviate some of the stress on students as they apply to colleges.