Major indecision

Colleges are pushing students to choose a major, because many who can’t decide are taking more time to complete a degree or drifting out without graduating.

College officials say many students were so focused on extracurricular activities in high school that they spent little time considering career choices.

I didn’t have to declare a major till the end of sophomore year. I chose English and Creative Writing, not a big-money major. But it was clear to me that I wanted a career in journalism and I gained the practical experience to make that a reality.

Many young people who go to college without thinking about what they want to do there. You’d think the cost would make them focus, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

About Joanne


  1. I think most high school and college students have very little idea about what it’s really like to work in profession “X” and even less idea about what the realistic jobs and income prospecs are in that profession. And their institutions do nothing much to help them gain this information, and in some cases systematically mislead them.

  2. If you’re going through on Mom & Dad’s money, or on scholarships, the cost isn’t obvious. (At least, it wasn’t to me.)

    Most of our self-supporting students are so busy working to pay tuition books living expenses they can barely keep up in class, let alone do big-picture long-term thinking. The non-traditionals do a better job of this.

    At my university, only the Business School has a long-term record of annual presentations to every student by real practitioners about what it is they actually do in their day-to-day jobs, but the deans are eager to extend that idea to everybody else. It’s a bit problematic, though – how many class days am I supposed to give up for this? What am I supposed to drop from the syllabus?

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Time for a Wanderyar?

  4. Cardinal Fang says:

    “Colleges are pushing students to choose a major, because many who can’t decide are taking more time to complete a degree or drifting out without graduating.”

    Can you say “correlation is not causation”? I thought you could. Focused, driven students (1) pick their majors early, and (2) work hard and graduate in four years. Making non-focused, undriven students pick their majors won’t make them focused and driven.

  5. You’re assuming an either/or situation, Cardinal. I think that’s plain wrong.

    Like pretty much all human characteristics, focus and drive probably exist along a continuum with the triple-Phd-while-raising-a-foster-child at one end and living-in-mom’s-basement at the other.

    That leaves plenty of room for the folks in between who find a direction after they receive a push.

    Also, are you suggesting that the inability or unwillingness to choose a major has nothing to do with spending more time to complete a degree or failure to do so? That’s the only meaning I can extract from your “correlation is not causation” reminder.