It’s hard enough to know what you want for lunch. But to choose what you want to study for the next 4-5 years? No wonder why 80% of all students end up changing their major. In fact, the average number of major changes is 3 per student.
Yet, despite those numbers, students find themselves telling others what they heard from their parents: You must choose a major or else it makes you look bad… Undeclared shows lack of direction… Colleges want students who have direction.
As someone who was trained in College Admissions by a very prestigious university, I have to confess: Parents, stop trying to make your kids look perfect and full of direction. It’s not healthy, and often times, it even hurts their chances of admission. Telling a kid to avoid Undeclared for the sake of being competitive is about as nonsensical as telling a kid getting a C in an AP class is the same as getting a B in a regular class.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the facts. UC Berkeley states in its Freshman Admission Guide that “choosing Undeclared will not affect your chance of admission”, and UCLA even published its acceptance rates by major. Out of the 15,000 students who applied Undeclared, 31% got in — compared to 12% for Business, 17% for Biology, and 13% for the entire School of Engineering.
No. This does not mean that your student should now apply Undeclared because it’s “easier” to get in. If you have devoted years to DECA and have a long résumé of business-related accomplishments, it would only make sense to apply business or economics. Applying Undeclared in this situation would definitely make you look bad, as the glaring question for any admission officer would be “Why isn’t this kid applying to business?” And for selective universities, admission readers would almost certainly catch onto your play: apply Undeclared and then transfer into the School of Business later.
But students who lack a strong résumé in any particular field, or legitimately don’t know what they want to study yet, should seriously consider applying Undeclared. Not only does it statistically boost their chances of getting accepted, but it buys them time to explore during the first two years of college.
After all, that’s what life’s about: exploring interests. And if you’re lucky, one of those interests may one day bloom to become a passion.