College Students Don’t Have to Declare a Major Right Away

An Oakland University graduate offers four takeaways for new college students – and explains that you definitely don't have to declare a major right away.

Ever since I was a little girl, I thought I wanted to be a teacher. When I got a little older, I thought I wanted to be an elementary school teacher because I loved little kids. I went to college thinking about that and only that – and started taking education classes right away.

Looking back now as a recent college graduate, I wish I realized students don’t have to declare a major right away.

A few years into college, I started having doubts about elementary education and was at crossroads of what I wanted to do next. Through this change of heart, I learned a few things that I think would benefit other college students, too.

1. Take required classes first

Every university has a number of classes you have to take before graduating. There are classes from all different subjects – including the basics like math, science and English. There are also classes about diversity and public speaking.

Taking these classes helps you become well-rounded and can give you a feel for classes you never thought you would take before. Students might figure out they like a certain area of expertise from these required classes and can choose more to take.

2. Keep an open mind

I went into college thinking only about my major. I took classes from the general requirements that I thought would help me to be a better teacher. Looking back at it now, I wish I would have taken more classes outside my comfort zone.

College is about finding yourself – and I probably would have figured out exactly what I wanted to do sooner if I didn’t focus so much on teaching.

3. Make a list

There is so much pressure on students to declare their major as soon as they can, but it’s OK to take some time to think about it. Learn about other subjects and majors you seem interested in.

I make lists for everything. And when I was having doubts about teaching, I made a list about things that interested me and classes that I enjoyed taking. This eventually helped me to figure out a new major.

4. Do what you want to do

It’s OK to change your mind. I did, and it was the best decision I could have made. I realized how much I enjoyed writing and looked more into journalism and what I could do with that degree.

I also enjoyed learning about history and decided to make that my minor because I could break up my schedule with a couple history classes every semester.

There is no one way you have to graduate college. And you definitely don’t have to declare a major right away!

Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one from Clinton Township. She graduated from Oakland University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a minor in history.

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