Rita Curti is a freshman with junior standing at the State University of New York at Geneseo. She’s a biology major and an anthropology minor, who loves to sing and cook in her free time. She aspires to combine her love for science and music by becoming a physical therapist, as well as a music therapist.
Your first semester of college is typically very unsettling. For most college freshmen, you’re in a totally new place, meeting all new people, and discovering a lot about who you are and what you want to do. College, as stereotypical as it sounds, is a time when you discover more than you ever have about yourself. Most students, even the ones who come in with definitive ideas about what they want to do, end up changing their minds, or questioning their decisions about their majors. It’s an exploratory period, which is totally fine. Yes, there will be students who have understood their passions for years and they may seem intimidating, but that doesn’t depreciate the value of students who change their majors 3 times. There is absolutely nothing wrong with coming in with no idea of what you want to do. As terrifying as it may seem to not know what you want to do, especially when everyone is asking you “Hey, what’s your major”, there is no need to fear. Even if everyone seems completely fixated on the outcome of their 4 (or more) years, it’s only because most of them don’t know that they don’t need to be.
Almost every college will tell you that it’s okay to come in undecided as a freshman, and that you won’t have to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year. While this is true, I understand the motivation to declare a major. Even picking classes becomes tedious when you’re not sure what your ultimate goal is. How do you know whether to take that biology course or Art History, or when you’ve taken too many math courses? The truth is, you probably won’t know until you declare a major. But if you’re inclined to take Calc III or Differential Equations, and find yourself dreading the idea of sitting through another class where a teacher lectures you about symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird, then maybe consider a math major. Your best bet for your entire college experience would be to do what you love. Regardless of what your interests are, college is a time to discover where your true passion lies.
Now, this isn’t meant to deter college freshmen from declaring a major. If you know what you want to do, and you love it, then you should absolutely pursue it. But, at the same time, there is really no harm in exploring a little. Extracurricular activities, double majors, and even minors are all options for college students to venture further into their passions. And the best part? They don’t even need to relate to your career goals. When I was first applying to college, I was sure I wanted to pursue Physical Therapy and Music Therapy, which would involve the Pre-Physical Therapy track, and, as I then believed, a biology major, in addition to a music major. I was convinced that the two majors were too dissimilar to logically pursue and that I would be in college for years on end, but when I talked to admissions counselors, I was put in touch with countless different students who had had the same initial reservations as I did, but were now pursuing Pre-med and dance, or Business and Art History, just to name a few. Yes, while it does seem like a lot of work, it’s like everyone always told you when you were younger: “If you’re doing something you love, it won’t feel like work at all.”
So try living in the present. Don’t focus on what degree you’re trying to get, and take that Music Theory class, even if you’re convinced it won’t help you at all. And this applies to all students, not just the undecided ones. The ability to take whatever classes you want, and genuinely pursue your passions is one you should never take for granted.