During this time of year, first-year college students transition into college and embark on an exciting new chapter in their life. My niece is entering college this year and has enrolled at an HBCU. I’m so excited for her.
The advice I shared with her and other first-year students is to consider not declaring a major during their first semester or two.
Declaring a major is one of the most important decisions a college student will make. However, delaying that decision for one year could be in their best interest. College students should make sure that their selected major aligns with the career they hope to pursue upon graduating. Noted below are a few benefits of delaying that decision.
Confirmation – By delaying your choice for a college major, at least until your sophomore year, you will be exposed to subjects that might pique your interest. Most colleges require mandatory courses to provide students with a well-rounded education. Waiting until you’ve completed one full year allows you to complete the college’s required classes. It also gives you a sense of certainty once you are ready to select a major.
Cost – Another advantage is cost. Approximately 50-70% of students who declare majors early are likely to switch majors before graduating. I know this because I was one of those students who switched majors more than once during my undergraduate experience. Delaying the selection of a major until you are sure will save you from taking unnecessary classes and money.
Time – Your four-year degree could increase to five years or more. Switching from one college major to another costs you the most valuable asset – time. Once you’ve invested your time in classes that you essentially do not need toward your declared major can set you back from graduating on time.
Bottom line, my advice is to wait one year before you declare your college major. During your first year, take the general required classes that most colleges require. Then at the end of your first year or when entering your sophomore year, you will have confidence and assurance of the college major that fulfills you, is connected to your purpose, and aligns with your dream job.