A Major Decision in the Mind of an Undecided Student

Fourth Estate/ Billy Ferguson


The moment I set foot onto campus, as a freshman, I was absolutely lost. Although it’s true that I got lost trying to find the Nguyen Engineering Building from the other side of campus, I was actually referring to my state of mind. 

Over the past few years, the weight of seemingly harmless questions about my future have continuously grown into heavier variations of “What are you going to do with your life?” Woven within the asker’s words is the anticipation of a declaration of some impressive aspiration. 

As a child, I would have been more than happy to give you a long, detailed description of my dreams and ambitions.  But with every encounter, the substantial amount of expectations — even from people I hardly know — have left me only capable of awkwardly providing a half-hearted response with an uncomfortable pressure in my throat.

There is an underlying expectation in our society that we all need to have an idea of what we plan to do with our lives early on. During high school, we begin to seriously consider the paths we wish to pursue in order to lay the foundation for our future careers. At the mere age of 17 or 18, we are asked to make a choice that holds the potential to determine the direction of our futures. The daunting nature of this task can be overwhelming to some as they begin to assume the responsibilities of adulthood. Consequently, it’s completely understandable for individuals to feel uncertain about their initial decisions.

As someone who prefers to be aware of all necessary details in order to plan efficiently before taking action, being an undecided student with a foggy future and an unknown purpose was a nightmare. When I initially expressed my concerns about my situation, people ranging from friends, counselors, advisors, upperclassmen and even professors all reassured me that “It’s okay to be undecided.” 

Because of the encouragement I was receiving, I tried to make peace with my conflicting thoughts by exploring different fields and getting involved with new activities. I tried desperately to convince myself that I shouldn’t feel too stressed over this; I had plenty of time before I was required to officially declare my major, but I couldn’t help but question whether it is really okay to be undecided.

Unfortunately, keeping a positive attitude proved difficult. Months prior to beginning my first semester as a college student I had established a daily routine, investing hours of my time researching majors offered by Mason and their associated careers. Additionally, I would look for the job outlooks, required skills and salaries of each respective career. Time and time again, even with all of my effort, I would repeatedly come across a dead end. When I began making progress in my pursuit, something would always bring me back to square one.

In an environment full of ambitious people striving towards their goals with a purpose and strong objectives, I felt misplaced, lost and alone. I didn’t want to admit it, but it was clear that the careers associated with my most interesting major options didn’t seem like the right approach for me. I didn’t know how to cope with the disappointment and discouragement I constantly encountered and endured. 

Although it took some time for me to confront this dilemma, I was determined to succeed. I was not going to be satisfied until I discovered my own passion and learned how I can apply that to my life. After several moments of frustration and despondency, I eventually did. 

This process was really challenging for me due to the uneasiness I felt about my fading interest in multiple subjects. While there were majors I was interested in, I had no desire to pursue a career within those fields. At the same time, there would be careers I would be interested in, but had little confidence in my ability to succeed in. After setting aside my worries and utilizing the previously collected information about each major, I selected my top major choices and researched dozens of career options.

I plan on discussing more information with my advisors regardingly my long-awaited decision to major in biology with the hopes of pursuing a career as a cosmetic dermatologist. Truthfully, I was genuinely surprised by my newfound interest in cosmetic dermatology because I had never considered studying this field. 

While I did discuss my personal struggles as an undecided student, I do believe that there is nothing wrong with being unsure about the prospects of your future. Being an undecided student has provided me with the opportunity to broaden my perspective by meeting people from diverse backgrounds and allowing me to change my attitude and my interests. Furthermore, it has given me the chance to learn more about who I am and what I’m passionate about. 

It can be difficult to admit that you’re not certain on your, so to speak, life-changing decisions. It is important to remember that this is your life and you have full control of your life, even if it seems like the world is working against you. You set your own goals and work hard to achieve those goals. Rather than comparing yourself to others, you should be proud of your own efforts. Some people may have their lives figured out, but everyone is living life to the beat of their own drum. 

To those who may feel lost or uncertain with where they are in life, I leave you with one final message. In the words of Alexander Graham Bell: “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”