Applying with an Undecided Major
CollegeAdvisor.com presents its webinar on Applying with an Undecided Major in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with a CollegeAdvisor.com advisor. Our presenter will provide information about how to research schools without a major in mind, how to write about academic interests in your supplemental essays, and more. Our advisor will share information about navigating the college process without a specific major in mind and how to find the right college fit.
2020-09-17 Applying with an Undecided Major
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Bullseye admissions webinar on Applying with an Undecided Major. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
My name is Gabby Libsyn. I graduated from Barnard college in the class of 2018. For those of you who are new to Barnard, it’s a small women’s college associated with Columbia university in New York. I was a psychology major, and then I taught an elementary school for a little bit before continuing on to the university of Pennsylvania.
Worked on my master’s in mental health counseling studies. I was also a counselor in a high school for a little bit. During that time I’m currently a counselor with Bullseye. Additionally test is here for tech support. So feel free to message her if you have any tech issues at all. So I’d like to start things off with a poll.[00:01:00]
I know a lot of you are here because you’re undecided about your major, but to get a sense of what you might be interested. Here’s my question for you.
Yeah. What general academic areas are you most interested? The humanities stem other unsure. It’s okay. If you’re unsure, that’s what we’re here for.
I’ll give that a minute.
so as predicted, most of you are unsure, but I am seeing that, there are a couple of other areas you might be interested in for those of you who are unsure, this is the right place to be, frankly, for all of you, it’s the right place to be. All right. Let’s talk about being an [00:02:00] undecided major.
For starters, I want to dispel some rumors. At least 50% of students apply to college as an undecided major, which means you are not in the minority right now. And everyone who ends up going to college of those numbers, 75% of students are going to change their major, at least once during those four to five years.
In fact, most schools even allow you to change your major up until you’re saying. Near a year. Most schools don’t even require you to declare your major until the last semester of sophomore year. That gives you four semesters to figure it out. And when you write those major Declan declarations on your application, it’s non-binding.
So even though there is that question that says, what do you think you want to major in the schools? Aren’t going to hold you to that. If you change your mind, even in the first week, the only time a major is binding is when you’re too late to Minnesota requirements for a new major, which can be pretty late in the game.
So we’ll talk a little bit more about what that means down the road. They’re over 18,000 [00:03:00] different majors in the United States, which is why it’s really hard to know exactly what you want to do right now. Those majors can run the range of things that we know and are really comfortable with English and writing and statistics to some really specific, unique ones.
You can see, I have a list on here, including racetrack industry, puppet, arts, viticulture, and enology. I don’t know if anybody know what that is, but I looked it up. It is Weinstein. That was that Cornell’s hotel management, school, turf, grass, science, packaging, science theme, park engineering, and Canadian studies.
So you have a ton of options and it’s pretty hard to pick a major that may or may not even exist that you haven’t seen yet. Some schools are even going to allow you to create a major or combined majors. Brown in particular is known for the ability to have flexible majors and they’re really known for their happiness concentrating.
So you have options going in. Let’s talk a little bit about majors versus programs.[00:04:00] So applying with a major is very different from applying to a program or a college within a university, which is to say you could be a statistics major in a program for math and science, or you could be a literature major in the college of arts and sciences.
Many universities have programs or schools within the university that specialized in content. So pretty much every college has a college of arts and sciences also known as letters and sciences that has what they call their liberal arts programs or general studies. So for those of you who are undecided that’s for a lot of you will apply it’s broad spectrum.
It offers a number of courses. And actually, how is most of the introductory courses as well? They’re also art and architecture, colleges, engineering, colleges, journalism colleges, and that’s just to me. So again, you’ll probably end up applying to the arts and science. So letters and sciences, unless you specifically know where you want to be.
You’ll take some intro classes. And then from [00:05:00] there you’ll have options as far as majors and programs gap. So even when you apply to a program or a college with any university, you’re not applying to a specific major, let’s say, that you want to be a stem major. You’re not sure what kind of stem major or you think you might be interested in engineering, but you’re not sold yet on what kind of engineering it is.
And that’s probably because you haven’t been exposed to all the kinds yet. That’s what college is for. You might apply to the math and science program and you might get in, but that doesn’t mean that you are set on being any specific major. Cause you’re applying to the school. And on top of that, it’s possible to transfer into a college once you’ve matriculated at the university, if you eventually decide on a major that’s housed elsewhere, what I mean by that is let’s say you apply to the college of arts and sciences, and you think you might be a little curious in about writing and when you find out is you’re actually not that curious about writing, what you really love is writing [00:06:00] and reading about architecture.
And you think that you might want to pursue it. That might end up in the architecture school or the school of design and a lot of cases, it’s really easy to transfer from the school of arts and sciences into that art or design program that said you should always check to see what that process looks like before you apply to a school you would hate to get stuck.
University of Texas and Austin specifically has made internal transfers. Really competitive, in fact, as competitive as it is a transplanter into the school externally. So from another school and their goal is to try and keep that collective and that cohort pretty tight. They also believe that their curriculum is really specific.
And then it’s hard to transfer in midway that said the university of California, Los Angeles is really comfortable with internal transfers and they want to make it accessible for students. So in recent years, they’ve made those admissions processes easier. For students already admitted to UCLA. So [00:07:00] again, you really just want to check in and see what the school’s processes are like, and maybe it’s not listed on their website.
That might be a question for their admin. You can always call their admissions counselors. So this is the big question. I get a lot, fake it till you make it. Do you put a fake major down or choose a major that you think is going to help your chances? The answer is no. There is a really small chance that it could pay off only if you specifically choose a major that’s underrepresented or has a low population of individuals with your identity.
And even then, you’re not likely to see it really change your application all that much. What it more likely does. Cause problems with your application. It’s really clear to admissions counselors when the listed major isn’t aligned with anything else in your application, and it can look really disingenuous and inconsistent.
You might be somebody who was the president of national [00:08:00] honor society for Spanish and president of the French club and part of mock UN model UN. And you’ve applied as bioengineering. Maybe you like science classes too, but none of your extracurriculars are aligned with that. It’s more likely that you might be interested in languages or world culture or international politics.
And so putting something down like bioengineering, because you think it might look good or increase your chances is likely going to hurt that generally it’s best to strategize your applications. According to being undecided, rather than just stretch the truth or try and pick something that doesn’t really fit your needs or your interests.
How much weight does that question have is another big question that I get. So the good news for all of you here, usually not that much schools are aware that most applicants aren’t a hundred percent sure of their career plans or areas of interest. They know that 50% statistic that I gave you. This is just another way for them to learn [00:09:00] about you in the context of your whole application.
They want to see if these interests are long standing and you’re going to pursue that in their profile. They also want to make sure that they develop a diverse student body and that can still be done with undecided majors. This is essentially where they determine if students are eligible for consideration for some really major, specific scholarships.
Not every school has that. In fact, when I was applying to schools, most of my schools didn’t have any major specific scholarships. If you’re not at all interested in an underrepresented major or major that’s underpopulated by an individual with your identity, that’s the only place in the question might hold a little bit of weight and otherwise it holds almost no weight
So then we get to the big question. How do we strategize the college applications? The first question is, does this college or university have a program or a college of arts and sciences or letters and science? Or a liberal arts [00:10:00] program. Liberal arts is going to provide a broad approach to education. The liberal arts usually refers to the humanities, but colleges that are liberal arts tend to be schools that focus on getting a broad education, which means that they might ask you to take a curriculum that includes one introductory math class and one instructional English class, and one introductory science.
The college of liberal arts is where most of these intro classes are. So all of your one-on-ones are likely to be in the college of arts and sciences. And you can take a look at school websites for their specific arts and sciences and arts and letters and science colleges to see who’s got specific programs for what you’re interested in.
If you don’t know where you want to be, you really want to find a school that has a strong gen ed program. And that’s going to be in your college of arts and science. The next step from there is if you’re interested in an open curriculum or a core curriculum. What I mean by that is that an [00:11:00] opener curriculum has no requirements to graduate beyond a number of credits and your major record.
This is pretty common at big state universities and some smaller schools like brown ambassador. So I mentioned earlier that you have major requirements. When you decide on a major, usually by the end of your sophomore year, there are certain number of classes and a certain order of classes you have to take in that field of interest in order to graduate with it as a major, if you take less or a different order of classes, you might be able to count that as a minor, but it’s not the same.
So an open curriculum would only require you to do those major requirements and finish a certain number of credits eight core curriculum. On the other hand is a very specific set of requirements they’re categories, and usually very specific courses to encourage students to get a broad exposure to.
The reason this is important is because of several things. The first, if you’re somebody who’s really unsure about what you want to [00:12:00] study and you think you’re going to be unsure for a while, because you have a list of a hundred interests. That’s awesome. We love to hear about people who are interested in all kinds of things, but at a school with a really specific core curriculum.
Columbia university, for instance, they have a very set core. It gets really hard to change your major because you have so many required classes you have to do in addition to your major requirements. So you want to consider what the core curriculum looks like before you really pursue it. The second reason this is important is that to do a little digging about who you are.
Are you somebody who needs structure in order to figure out what you’re interested in? Are you somebody who needs to take a class in a number of different areas or do you feel totally constrained and limited by requirements? Would you rather have the opportunity to pick from anything anywhere and then take those classes and decide for yourself what you’re interested in?
The only person who knows that answers. You are going to have to do some digging to figure that out. [00:13:00] And from there, you can start investigating schools that have an open curriculum and a core curriculum. So based on what I just told you about opening core curriculum styles, I’ve got another question for you, which curriculum style appeals to you most.
And just give me a quick moment test. Would you mind helping me with this poll?
We’ll just give it a minute for everyone’s answers to come on in.
all right. It looks like most [00:14:00] people are saying that they like an open curriculum. I can totally appreciate that. There is a lot to discover and depending on the size of your school and the specialties of your school, you’re going to have a ton of classes to go and pursue so I can understand why it would make sense for you to have a lot of options and not be so constrained to a court.
all right. So again, when we’re looking at our college lists, there are a couple of other things we want to consider. Advising in particular is really important. If you really don’t know what you want to do, you’re going to need some guidance when you get to school and you’re going to need somebody who is on your team there to help you and have you talk to them.
What you really want to look for is the advising program in your college, dig into that advisor to student ratio, find out, how many students that advisor takes on. If they’re major specific, how often you get to see that advisor find out how much access you have to a [00:15:00] helpful and educated advisor who can guide you in the process of picking a major and ensure that you graduate on time.
Sometimes when you get a little too curious about multiple majors, you can find yourself not completing enough requirements or not completing requirements in order. And it’s really helpful to have somebody there to say, hang on, stay on track. What usually happens is that you’ll start with a freshman advisor, they’ll be randomly assigned to you.
And then when you declare your major, you usually declare it with either a random faculty member within that program, a department or a faculty member that you’ve gone to and asked if they would advise you. So ultimately you end up moving to a major specific advisor. But before you do that, you need somebody who knows the programs, who knows how to work, use the system and look into it and see, what courses are required when those are being taught, how you have to plan your schedules.
It helps to have somebody who has done this before and who knows what it’s like to work with a student who might not be a hundred percent sure of where they want to go and [00:16:00] what they want to do. So the more you can find out about advisors and the advising process, the better if you have access to all going to admissions counselor at some schools, ask them questions about what kinds of advisors you’re assigned to, and if you have access to subject specific or career specific advisors.
So this is a little bit further down the road, but if you are undecided and you think you might be curious about being pre-med or pre-law. Or on nursing, any of those school programs that require a certain academic curricula in order to apply some schools have advisers who are specific to those postdoc chart, post undergraduate degree programs.
Find out if your school does and find out if you have access to them with or without. As a reminder being pre-med is not a major pre-med as a track of courses that you take and you major within that track, you can even be a literature major with a pre-med track or a biology major and a pre-law track.
[00:17:00] The two of the things don’t have to coincide necessarily. So it’s really important to find out if you have access. Advisors for general advising and who access to advisors for specific post undergrad plans, especially if you think you’re someone who wants to do that. So now let’s talk about strategizing the application.
I know there’s a lot of stress about this. There’s a lot of stress because everyone wants to write the perfect essay and they get it. But writing an essay should never be about why you picked a major to begin with. It should always be about who you are as a person. If you happen to write an essay that says both that’s wonderful.
But the schools are more interested in getting to know you, then what you can put on a resume, then what courses you’re going to take once you’re there they’ll know you, once you’re in that program, it’ll be easier. This is how you tell them who you are. So your essay should always be about you as a [00:18:00] person.
You can focus the core of these essays on the skills and personality traits that you can apply to any field. And that’s a really great way to strategize. If you don’t know what you want to say. What I mean by that is, let’s say you don’t have any idea and you’re not even a little bit sure. Of where you might want to go write an essay about being intellectually curious, write an essay about a tiny persevered, write an essay about some aspect of your personality that you’re really proud of.
That’s applicable, no matter what you do, that’s going to make all the difference down there. You really want to highlight those broad interests and talents instead of writing about something you’re less passionate about. So this goes back to that, fake it till you make it. The schools will know when you’ve written an essay that you’re not overjoyed about.
They’ll know when you’re writing about something that you only care about once a week on Saturdays, is that as something that you really are dedicated to, that you’ve committed yourself to, and that you’ve shown a lot of growth in. So when you speak to your extracurriculars and what you’ve learned.[00:19:00]
Even if what you’ve learned is that you didn’t like that extracurricular write about that instead of why you think that you want to be a certain major, those are at least the text for a common core essay or your basic personal statement. As a reminder, that’s a personal statement. It’s not an essay about why you want to be a certain major.
So then we get to the questions about why you want to be a certain major. That what major ISA. I get that. That’s counteracts what I said earlier about how schools don’t really care, what major you want to have. This is a pretty direct question about your plans or in the case of those of you who are undecided the lack thereof.
And that’s okay. They’re still not going to look at this essay and commit you to whatever you’ve written. So answer honestly, It’s okay to get on a specifically, but you might have a general area interest. I think all of us can look at school and say, I have a favorite subject, or I have a subject I [00:20:00] hate being in class for, so right about the time that something peaked your curiosity on this one, you’re going to want to focus on the interests and the positives, not the next.
I know I just said, you can write an essay about how you learned that you didn’t like something. And that’s really helpful in certain specific cases for a personal essay, but on this major and why you want to talk about what things you’re generally interested in. So the positive aspect of this, and it’s always a good opportunity to say, you don’t know what you want to do, but for a long time, you’ve enjoyed reading or math and then really dig into what that looks like for you.
If you love reading, write about a book that made you want to learn more. Write about a book that, you kept reading and couldn’t put down, or if you love math, write about a math technique that you got excited about, about the class that really showed you that you were good at math.
These are opportunities for you to show intellectual initiative, curiosity, and just a general path. Again, this is not a binding commitment and [00:21:00] it’s not a good place to work. Why.
So my final words, if it’s up to you or don’t stress, seriously, you are among the majority and not knowing many of these schools build programs to help you with the process of self discovery and introduce you to new ideas and fields. They ask you what majors you’re interested in so that they can ensure a diversity of thought.
But you can show that in a number of ways, you can show that with your extracurriculars. You can show that with your essays, you can show that in your interview. You are not bound to that question on your application that says, what major are you interested in? And you’re not bound to the essay on your application that says what major and why you as a whole person have way more options than that.
Alright, we are going to end the presentation part of this webinar. I hope that you found this information helpful. [00:22:00] I don’t remember. You can download the slides and the handouts tab or click on the link in the public chat. We’re going to move on to the live Q and a. I will read the questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, and I’ll post them in the public chat so you can see them.
And then I’ll read them out loud before I answer. Oh, sorry. Yes, let’s see here. And it doesn’t look like we have any questions yet. So I’m going to pull up a couple that I generally get. And as you guys come up with questions, I will put them in the chat
set. Here’s a really good line. Colleges give scholarships to applicants who are undecided on a major. The answer is yes. They might not give specific scholarships to somebody who’s undecided. They’re often scholarships for specific degrees or major programs, but they’re also scholarships for people with other identities or even just merit based scholarships.
So you’re [00:23:00] certainly still eligible for a scholarship with, or without that major specificity.
Let’s see here. How do you plan for your classes if you don’t know what to major in another really great question. So one of the ways you can plan for your classes is by getting in touch with your first-year advisor. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s super important to have an advisor who is involved, engaged and knows the curriculum.
You’ll also have a number of introductory classes that you have to take. So you’ll usually have a freshmen class. And then any field of interest you might be interested in, you got to start with those ones. And that’s a really good way to start to populate your schedule. You think he might be interested in something.
Okay. Find the one-on-one and take that. All right. How do you determine if a school has an open or a core curriculum? Awesome questions, then I’m going to publish that. Yes.
So the way to do that would be to [00:24:00] go onto the school’s website in their basic introductory website, it should tell you. A little bit about their philosophy. And then there should be an academics tab. You can go into their academics tab and it’ll explain the way that they do things. For instance, my undergraduate school, Barnard has what they call the nine ways of knowing that’s their core curriculum.
So they ask that you take a class in literature, science, math, computer programming anthropology, an introductory freshman course. An introductory writing course and a handful of others, I believe there are nine and I seem to have escaped them. But they’re broad categories. They’re names for different things.
You can pick across a number of different fields, which one fits that category. But if you go into their website, the first thing Bernard’s mission statement will say is we ask that our students participate in the nine ways of knowing you might have to do a little digging for some of the bigger universities, but it’s usually in their, with their [00:25:00] basic frequently asked questions and their mission statement.
Another good question. Do all universities allow you to apply as undecided? I want to say yes. And the reason I want to say yes, just because I can’t think of a single school that doesn’t. But there are so many universities that if I say yes and I’m wrong, that’s a hard guarantee. Every single university will allow you to change your mind no matter what you put in that category.
And I can promise you that. So in a sense, yeah. They all allow you to apply as undecided. It’s also perfectly acceptable to leave that answer blank and most common apps. And I’m almost positive. You can always input undecided. All right. You truly don’t know what you want to major in or what type of college you want to attend.
What is the best way to narrow down your college search? Especially this time when college visits are very limited. Another really [00:26:00] excellent question. My first suggestion would be to think about what it is you want out of your college experience, the size of school matter to you. Does location of school matter to you?
Do. Residential options matter. Start to think about extracurriculars. Do you want a school that has certain sports? Do you want to have a school that has a big sports team and a great sports following or smaller, more communal activities. Are you looking for specific extracurriculars that you want to continue through college?
That’s a place to start, once you start to narrow down, what kind of experience you want from there, you can look at things like, do I feel like I want an open curriculum or a club or a core curriculum, does it make sense for me to be in a in a large school with no residential housing and a lot of off-campus living or do I want to be somewhere small where we [00:27:00] all live together?
And again, I really can’t stress enough, the importance of that advisor to student ratio, especially if you truly have no idea what you want to be doing. So once you’ve thought about the experience you want to have, what those important factors are to you see if you can audit a virtual class, I don’t know what’s happening during COVID, but it’s always something you can reach out to schools about since you can’t visit the actual school.
And then really again, think about those advisors situations to help you figure out what it actually looks like to be undecided at that school. Is it easier to get into a competitive school by applying as undecided? I’m going to publish this question. It is not easier and it’s not harder. Applying to a competitive school is not going to be.
Affected in any way, by what major you put down with the exception. And again, I say this very carefully. If you [00:28:00] are interested and genuinely interested in a major that is filled, that you are an underrepresented identity for what I mean by that is. For a long time, there was not equality with women in stem majors.
So a lot of schools were excited and eager to have students who were interested, who were women interested in stem, whether or not that’s the case? I don’t actually believe that to be true anymore, but that’s a very specific kind of scenario I’m talking about. When I say if you’re an underrepresented identity in that major field, it’s neither easier and are harder though, because it’s a competitive school is going to look at that the same way that a non-competitive school’s going to look at it.
They’re going to say that’s really exciting. Does that person contribute to digress? Diversity of thought more importantly, does that person show that they have the ability and the curiosity and the interest to pursue a number of different things and then the drive and motivation to complete their major.
That’s what a competitive university cares about more than whatever answer you get. And if you had picked a major that school knows that [00:29:00] there’s a 75% chance that you might change your major down the line which is really why I say it doesn’t make a huge difference at the end. Yeah. Is it hard to change programs within university, like going from liberal arts to business?
It depends on the university. I would love to give you a more short answer than that, but the truth is some schools don’t allow you to apply to their business school or to their school of engineering until your sophomore year. Some schools require that you apply immediately. Schools have an open transfer policy where it’s really flexible to transfer.
And like I mentioned, UT Austin has decided that they’re really not going to be flexible on that anymore. So a good way to determine that is to reach out to college admissions officers and see what they have to say. And you could find a lot of information on the website if you Google internal transfers within their school website.
But it’s it can be tricky and you have to do some digging for that information. I know that I had a hard time figuring [00:30:00] out which schools were a little more open with that. Yeah. And I think that kind of follows the next question. How hard is it to change schools within a college, if you do declare major initially, and then change your mind?
The thing to really consider if you change your mind is how early are you changing? Are you going into your sophomore year and you have enough time to fulfill all the credits and take those intro classes? Probably not that hard, as long as you’ve shown consistently high grades in that area, in your introductory classes, as long as you consider yourself a fairly competitive candidate for a transfer.
Because even though you’re transferring internally, you’re still considered a transfer student. In some regard, some schools take that really seriously. Some schools don’t take it that serious. But if you are a junior or a senior and you finished most of the requirements for a different major, or you don’t have any requirements, but you could feasibly finish one at the school that you’re in, it’s going to be a little bit trickier to convince that school, to take you because every [00:31:00] college has their certain requirements.
So I would just, before you make that decision, make sure that the classes you’ve taken set you up for success in that next college. What is the best thing you can recommend when you are looking for college essay topics? What a great question. So I have apply, gosh, I’m on my fourth round of applications.
I have applied to undergraduate schools and three rounds of graduate programs. And the best advice I can give to somebody is start and stop as many essays as you think might be interesting. What I mean by that is there’s no specific question that anybody is gonna answer. That’s gonna make it the world’s best essay, but.
Writing a personal essay is really challenging and it takes a lot of time to do that reflection. So every time you have an intro paragraph, come to mind every time you think, oh, this might be something fun to talk about, write it down, write that intro paragraph. [00:32:00] And then the one that flows into an essay easiest is the one that you might want to start editing over and over again.
I would encourage you to really focus on writing essays about personal growth. That’s the best essay advice I have. And I know that is very vague, but it’s really a matter of practice and repetition and trying to get an again. I think I wrote 40 essays before I hit the one that I then edited, 30 or 40 times before I submitted it.
It’s a very long time.
Okay, good question. What would you do if you aren’t really passionate about anything? Let me just put this in the published chats.
That’s fun. Not because it’s uncommon to not be passionate about anything yet, but because. Passion is not everything, but it [00:33:00] can be very meaningful and direct it for people. So passionate can be where we see the most personal growth. If you aren’t passionate about anything. That’s okay. Think about how you develop skills, things that you’re good at things that you really disliked doing and how you learned that.
This essay process is about defining yourself as a learner and an intellectual and an individual. So even if there’s not one thing that you just love and can’t stop talking about, there’s certainly experiences that you’ve had that show who you are and how you process information and how you grow as a person.
That’s what I want to see right about. And that’s what the schools want to see you write about. And I think that’s the advice I can give as far as essays when it comes to deciding a major down the road, if you want. I think that’s really a question of maybe, but there’s something that you enjoy doing, you might not want to eat, sleep and breathe statistics, but the math might not be the worst thing to do all day.[00:34:00]
It’s okay. To not be passionate about your major, as long as you are learning something and enjoying that learning process, that’s a really good place to start. And eventually I think you start to narrow down things that you really like and really dislike until you find that passion, this world is huge and there are so many options of things that you can do.
So the more that we learn, we dislike the closer we get to the things that we do, that’s my best advice. I’m not super passionate. If you’re looking for an athletic scholarship and we don’t have a decided major, how can we know which option is better? That’s a good question. And to put that in our chat for athletes out there just a moment.
I guess, I [00:35:00] don’t know that you have to decide you can still start that process of considering does this school offer me the things that I need, does this school offer me that an athletic scholarship? And does it have programs that I might be curious about that I could potentially be excited to study?
Does this school fit my needs in terms of size and location, and then from there consider athletic scholarship, but I’m not quite sure I understand fully why one would have to choose or how those two are something that you, the options you decide between. You can have both, you can be undecided and still be in pursuit of non-athletic scholarship.
In fact, I think many of the athletes start college, knowing that they’re deeply passionate about their sport. But less, less concerned about what major they want to choose. So you have some options there. And I think very similarly, there’s a question if you’re going to be a D one athlete, but don’t know what your major and is that something [00:36:00] a coach will consider as something that will knock you down and their selections?
I would think a coach would consider you a transfer risk if you don’t. And if you end up picking something that the school doesn’t specialize. That’s a very good question. The first thing to say offhand is that I was not a college athlete and I am not the expert on that process. I I’m sure I can connect you to an advisor at Bullseye who would be an expert in that process that said, given the information you’ve given me the first thing to consider is that not every school specializes in something, but they do have options available.
And what a coach considers bringing you in. They want to know that you are an academic student who can be happy in a number of the different areas offered. So a lot of these D one schools, as I understand it are fairly large, those large schools are going to have huge options and likely not specialize in anything in the way that a lot of smaller schools are, but still pretty good across the board and be pretty strong options [00:37:00] academically.
So you’re not a transfer risk, as long as you are. Curious about a number of different things that the school offers. And when you get that D one offer, just do a quick search and say, does this school have programs in this, in math, in science, in education, let’s say you want to be a teacher. What is the education program available to me?
What is the nursing program available to me know your options. And then before you take that offer as a D one school. Make sure that school has the options. As far as I understand it, the coaches aren’t really considering you to be at transfer risk, because I think from a coach’s perspective, your priority and your interest in that school is the athletics.
And so they are the cell for that school. But again, I have to be clear. I am not the expert in athletics and athletic recruitment. So we’re about partway through our Q and a. As a quick break. I want to let you know about Bullseye, [00:38:00] which is partnered with NCSA to bring you this webinar to both like and NCSA members.
So we have a bunch of free resources at Bullseye that can help you with your college apps, including free webinars. And a ton more. So this not to have a whole set of webinars that are here to help you build a strong foundation for a fine, I’m going to send you the link to our foundations landing page, which has all of our webinars this month.
Can you just a movement? I will send that test, which you help me send us offers. Oh, it’s right in front of me.
And that should show up there for you.
Okay. Take a look back here at these questions a lot more time and plenty of questions. Is there a [00:39:00] different consideration given to applicants who may have a gap year or two? I think what a school primarily wants to see from a student who may have taken a gap year is more insight into who they are that might take the form of a decided major, but it mostly takes the form of clarity in your essays.
When you talk about who you are as a person and how you’ve grown and why you might still be undecided. So that would be my thought about applicants who may have a gap year or two. Applying undecided hurt your chances at admission when applying ed to a school. No. Marcel than if you are applying undecided to irregular application, ed really just shows you that you’re interested in the school and you’re excited about that school.
It doesn’t say a whole lot about you being interested or committed to a meeting. So when you apply ed, what you’re saying is I’m committed to this school, never I’m committed to this potential [00:40:00] major. Let me publish that question for you guys as well.
What would be the process of changing majors in the core curriculum school? Great question. You’re going to want to identify as early as possible, whether or not you’re happy with the major you have. And the reason I say that is that some core curriculums are pretty small. They only require you take a few classes, five or six over the course of your four years.
Which is really not that many in the grand scheme of things. Some schools have up to 20 courses that they require you to take, depending on what that school looks like. It’s going to be easier or harder. And the first thing you’re going to end up doing is identifying. What major do I want to pick?
Because saying I have a major that I have declared. Now. I want to go back to being undecided. Isn’t really an option. It’s too late in the game for that. You have to know that you’re going from one, one [00:41:00] decided major to another decided major. You’re gonna want to make sure that you have all of your pre-recs for that major.
And you’re going to start talking to your advisor saying this major isn’t working for me. I’d like to transfer. I know that I finished the following courses for the current major I’m in. For this example, let’s say you already journalist major and you want to transfer to archeology. So in journalism, let’s say you’ve taken three of the seven courses you need.
And then there are a bunch of electives that you take on top of that within journalism and for archeology, there are five required classes and then only three electives to take on top of that. What you have to do is say, can I use any of my journalism courses as regular credits? Because in addition to having your core curriculum credits, let’s say you’re at a school with, nine or 10 credits, and then the major requirements, which might be nine or 10.
You still have a number of other credits you get to fill. So take a look at [00:42:00] those credits that you’ve already filled, that don’t fit either core curriculum or major requirements and say, can I apply my, a journalism credits to that? And then what do I need to start taking in order to move into an archeology major, immediately contacted advisor in the archeology department.
Again, these are just example majors. And start working with another professor on how to get yourself back on track. That might mean that you’re not taking electives until your very last semester, but it’s okay. And again, this always depends on how far along you are, how many courses the core curriculum requires and how many requirements your major required your major has.
And the only way to really know that is to reach out to department heads and get in touch with them. For some context though, schools like Columbia, where they have a really rigid core curriculum, make it very hard to change majors. My older brother was in love with Columbia. When he applied to schools, he was on the wait list.
He ended up [00:43:00] going to task. He changed his major three times that tests something he could only do because the core curriculum that tests is so flexible. So really consider what the corporate feeling is before you consider that part. All right. If you have two very different majors who are debating between, so for instance, international security studies versus pre PT, is it better to choose one and go with it?
Taking the freshmen starter classes and change later if you decide to switch or is it better to apply as undecided? That’s a tricky question. Let me publish this for everyone to see.
It’s my position that there’s nothing better or worse about deciding on this, about marketing yourself as undecided. It doesn’t hurt your chances and it doesn’t help your chances. And whatever you put down is nonbinding. It’s not like you put down free PT and your [00:44:00] first day of classes is a PT schedule.
What you’ll, what will happen is that you’ll get admitted and then you’ll start to get your course listings and you’ll decide which courses you want to take. So you get to pick what you take that freshman year, and it’s completely irrelevant. What you listed on your major question on your application.
So I think that one really comes down to comfort level. If you think it makes you look like you’re a more driven. That to list one of those. If you think it makes you look like you are a more focused and cohesive candidate, then you’re more than welcome to, but it’s not going to hurt you in any way to put undecided down at what year would you need to pick a major?
It really depends on each school, but most schools ask that you do it. I, the by the end of your sophomore year, so about four semesters. Let’s see
if you change in your major in college and you [00:45:00] want us to show major that’s more competitive or harder than the one you were originally in, will that be allowed? There’s usually an application process or programs that are really hard to get into majors themselves. You don’t have to apply to get it.
There are certain programs that you have to apply for and some of them are competitive. And some of them are really challenging to get into, but if, early on, you’re curious about something, start taking those steps, start reaching out to professors and asking questions. My general rule on this is as soon as that there’s something you’re curious about.
Start talking to people and asking as many questions as you can, because even if you change your mind, at least we’ll have that. Permission. Are you allowed to communicate with a college administrator from a school? If you’re not sure if you want to go there? Absolutely. That’s what they’re there for the college counselors and administer admissions advisors are there for potential students or for curious students, or for people who [00:46:00] might just be a little vaguely interested.
Their whole job is to be available to. So it’s absolutely acceptable to reach out, even if you are not sure that’s a place you want to be, that helps you decide if it’s not where you want to be. We are in college has undecided majors. What steps should we take to explore and research our interests?
Another very good question, because they’re asking the hard ones tonight.
I think that really depends on your style. I like to look at the general catalog of classes and say, what are these classes looks like, something I can sit and listen to for two hours a day, once a week or an hour, a day, twice a day. What, which of these courses, look to me, like I might learn something new or I’m excited to do readings about it.
As a reminder, most of your college classes are going to have you doing readings for up to five hours a week. So you want to start looking at classes that are things you could [00:47:00] really read about. And you can do that by really looking at that broad, expansive catalog and like looking at some of those random classes.
That really stand out to you. That’s a good place to start. You can also just start with gen ed. So you can start with like your basic language, literature, humanities, science, math, all of the classes that you would have taken in high school. You can start to look at the college level of those classes and then decide based on professors say, you know what?
I really liked this professor. I wonder if they can recommend a different class to me, you have a number of options when you get to go about this and it all. All it gets easier once you’re in college. I think it’s very scary to be on the outside, applying to get into school. But once you’re in college, there are so many support systems to help students.
Exactly. Like you who have these very questions. Every single professor is there because they know the system, they know what they’re teaching and they know what they’re doing. They’re our advisors. Chris and their [00:48:00] administrators and their peers who are going to help you figure these things out. So as much advice as I can give you from the application process, I promise you, once you’re in these schools, somebody is going to be able to give you more advice on how to do things like find a major, if you started major and find that you don’t like it anymore and want to choose something completely different, like going from being a lawyer to being an engineer.
How would that yeah, look great question. Again, it’s going to be school dependent and it’s going to depend on the requirements of each major. So in some cases, that jump, even though they seem really different, aren’t so hard. The example you offered lawyer and engineer, you can take all of these engineering classes and still end up being pre-law or you can be pre-law and mostly fill your extracurriculars with engineering courses.
And then when you decide to shift gears, you’ll notice that the courses you were choosing to take those engineering classes that you were interested in. It might fit those requirements for a major, sometimes the little harder [00:49:00] to make that jump, depending on the courses you’ve taken before you decide to change everything about this is going to depend on the school specific requirements and the major specific requirements and how you choose to fill your extracurriculars in the first few years.
I wish I could give you a more specific answer than that, but that’s as close as I think I can get not knowing. Specifically which schools is it best to start at a community college rather than a four year college university, if you are undecided on a major? I don’t believe so because I don’t think that colleges are phased by any means.
With you applying undecided, if you think that you want to take some time and try a couple of classes and then transfer into a college, that’s totally understandable. But I think that decision should be based more on what your academic needs are right now, what your location-based needs are and what your financial needs.
As opposed to [00:50:00] being undecided, because once you’re in that university, fresh year is dedicated to you figuring out what areas you want to explore. And there is no school that will just let you enter and say, all right, you’re on your own best of luck. These programs are all going to help you try and navigate that process to the best of their abilities.
How can you determine what degree leads to which career? My best advice for this one is to reach out to people in that field. Even just go on LinkedIn and start to look at people who are in that area, doing those jobs that you’re curious about and see what they studied for the most part, with some very few exceptions.
Your majors can lead you into just about any career. When I say some few exceptions, I’d be hard pressed to see a writing major as a counselor. But you might have a writing major chemical engineer double major, because you can always double major, although that’s a lot of work in a very unflexible schedule.
In terms of what degree [00:51:00] leads to which career you’re going to, I think about how specific that career. How specific the knowledge for that career is, and then whether that career requires graduate school. For instance, I am in a graduate program for mental health counseling. I was a psychology undergraduate major because I knew I loved psychology, but many of my classmates are not.
In fact, one of my classmates was an engineer at Toyota before she transferred into the counseling program. But in order to be a therapist. He had to do was finish this counseling master’s degree program, which is to say if the career has a graduate program, look at what the requirements are to apply to that graduate program and what the expectations are.
And that might help you determine which degrees you want to pursue. It might mean that you have all the options in the world, or it might be really specific. Will there be a copy of the handout available? Yes. In the handout tab, you should be able to access these.[00:52:00]
Yes, I can explain again, the difference between changing majors in a core curriculum school, on an open curriculum school. Let me publish this question before I do. So
it’s very different between a core curriculum and an open curriculum or the requirements of the school outside of your major, which means that in addition to the number of credits you have to take, let’s say it’s 121 courses. To graduate 30 or 50 of those credits have to come from a list of courses that they have put together.
That’s your core curriculum? So I, one moment he tests, it looks like the handouts are not in the handout tab. Would you mind helping us with that? An open curriculum means that you just have to complete that hundred and 2100. And whatever requirements are for your major. So your major might say you have to take four intro classes, four secondary classes and then five electives.
So in an open curriculum, that’s the only requirement you have on top of a ton of other [00:53:00] elective options. In a core curriculum, you might have those four intro for secondary and five electives on top of the nine classes that you had to take that fill the core curriculum. I think that should answer that a little bit more clearly.
I’m going to take about two more questions because it’s about time to end our conversation. But my college counselor is having me go through the comment process now, knowing that I will be playing juniors next year. This information teacher recommendations, essay, et cetera, be considered old because it’s a year old.
So I’m going to give you the answer to the best of my knowledge. And again, say as somebody who was not an athlete, Necessarily the most athletic of people. I’m giving you my guests based on what I know about colleges, but we can certainly try and connect you to somebody who would know better. I think some of the information might be considered a little old.
You might want to. Rewrite an essay because a year in the juniors [00:54:00] might teach you more about yourself. And I would imagine that the schools are going to want to see if you took that gap year to play in the juniors. They’re going to want to see what you learned during that time. So I think you’re going to want to rewrite that essay or keep that one empty teacher recommendations are probably okay.
As our test scores. For the most part, I would imagine But you might also want to make sure that you have a recommendation that’s fresh from somebody who has been in your life for the last year and seen who you are at that point of application. Schools will look at who you have been. That’s why you give them your transcripts.
That’s what you have teacher recommendations. But they also want to know who you are now. And so that’s why it would be a little hesitant on the essays. And then say can undecided students pursue internships? Absolutely. There is nothing holding you back from pursuing an internship. You might have a hard time convincing somebody to bring you on as an intern.
If you can’t demonstrate passion in that area, but not necessarily impossible. And there’s [00:55:00] nothing prohibiting you from pursuing an internship. In fact, as an undecided student, there is nothing that you’re prohibited from doing at all. All right, we’ll make this, our last one. How do you figure out all of the majors of school offers?
That is a really hard thing to do. Some of the schools we’ll list it. If you go to their academics tab under admissions, and some of the schools will give you all of the majors, but usually what happens is they give you a general overview. And once you’re in the program, you find out more about specific majors.
You also have schools that allow you to combine majors or Build your own major. So those get tricky too, but a good place to start is on the college admissions page under their academic. All right. So this is the end of our session. I had a really great time telling you how to decide when your major is undecided and answering all of these questions.
I hope this webinar was helpful to you and that you feel more prepared to apply this [00:56:00] cycle. If I didn’t get to your question, I’ll send out feedback in a form later this evening where you can add your additional questions, and.
Our next webinar will be in two days on Sunday from eight to 9:00 PM. Eastern time. This is going to be on how to write about your extracurriculars. So it’ll be especially focused on the activities list, section of the common app. Thank you so much for coming out to tonight’s webinar. I hope you all stay safe and take care.
And again, my name is Gabby and I’m a counselor with Bullseye. Have a wonderful evening.