Declaring your major: Hesitancy is valid

Bethany Abrams

On Feb. 13, an email was sent out to all first-year students at Augustana College regarding the eligibility to begin declaring majors. With an online form, declaring a major is an easy and quick process. However, deciding what majors to declare is not easy for everyone. I believe it is okay to be hesitant about declaring a major and even waiting until you’re ready.
Augustana College has a system where incoming first-year students are labeled as an “Augie Ages Undecided.” This means that everyone is undecided until they declare, which they have until the end of their sophomore year to do so. With the first email sent, though, many have already chosen to declare.
Briana Castro, a first-year student at Augustana College who is involved in choir, recently declared a music education major.
“I declared partly due to the advisor saying ‘if you want to do music, it is best to do it early to get requirements in’” Castro said.
Another reason is due to her confidence in what she wants to pursue.
“I am pretty set on my major,” Castro said, “but I might add a minor over the course of four years.”
Castro also explains that, although it may seem like many people are declaring at this time, she did not feel any pressure from others to do so and approves of Augustana’s system of first-years initially being undecided.
“There are a lot of people who do not know what to go into, so it takes the pressure off of having to declare super early,” Castro said. “It lets you experience many classes to see what you are interested in.”
Sometimes, when everyone around you is declaring it can seem overwhelming to do the same, which can lead to declaring a major you are unsure of pursuing.  Castro, though, acknowledges that everyone declares at their own pace and that her own decision just happened to be to declare as early as she could.
“All the people in my classes declared due to being music majors, but my other friends have not, which is okay,” Castro said. I think that Castro’s mindset is important here because it validates both those who do declare and those who do not.
Whether it be for indecision or other reasons, many first-years have yet to declare their major. For instance, I am waiting to declare as I am still narrowing down my double major, even though I have an inclination to what major I will choose.
With some friends around me who have already declared, I do feel some pressure to declare myself. However, I have felt that pressure even before I came to Augustana College. I am beginning to realize, though, that waiting until the end of March or even later is the best decision for me.
Ethan Taylor, a first-year has not declared yet, but he is leaning towards business administration. Similar to Castro, though, he has not felt any pressure from those around him to declare, partly because some of his friends have also yet to declare.
He is embracing Augustana College’s undecided system by utilizing this time. “We can explore and figure out what we want to do,” Taylor said. He also explained that, even with this extended time to declare, he does anticipate changing his major.
This leads to another reason why some first-year students are hesitant to declare is due to the stigma behind changing majors.
While it may seem ideal to declare a major and stick with it for four years, it is also valid to change your major over the course of four years if needed. Sometimes we think we want to do something, but over time we may lose passion.
Sophomore Synthia Gonzalez has experience with deciding and later changing majors. Gonzalez was not completely sure what she wanted to do her first-year as she changed her mind throughout the fall. Nonetheless, she still declared in the spring of her first-year.
After this, she ended up changing her major four times between then and now.
“I first declared a double major in French and multimedia journalism and mass communication (MJMC), then political science and sociology & anthropology, then political science and theatre, and now I am doing a double concentration in theatre and a minor in women gender sexuality studies (WGSS),” Gonzalez said.
Although it may have been a frightening experience to undergo that many changes, Gonzalez has a lot of faith in Augustana College.
“I know that I would get help and support if I needed it. I also am a person who just trusts the process,” Gonzalez said.
I think that Gonzalez’s experience of declaring and changing majors provides comfort to those who have yet to declare. Not only is it normal to be indecisive, but it is okay to change your major later. Declaring does not lock you in.
In addition, Gonzalez acknowledges that changing majors is the easiest it has ever been due to COVID-19 and the new online form that allows you to request a program change from home as well.
Although changing majors is an easy process, Synthia also states that it is okay to not declare until any indecision has been resolved.
“If you’re someone like me, wait [to declare] until there is no question in what career you want to pursue. However, there are some people who have known what they wanted to do since they were five years old and it has never changed. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t hurt to declare early,” Gonzalez advises.
During that time that you wait to declare, Augustana College will continue to support and understand these struggles. I think it is especially important in these times to visit the career center. Due to my own indecisiveness, I have made various appointments with Keri Bass, assistant director of vocational exploration, through Augustana’s Handshake to meet with her virtually. She was not only a great help to me, but she is helpful to everyone that she sees.
Embrace the process. It is an exciting time for some to finalize these decisions, but it’s also okay to be hesitant or even frightened. Things will work out, no matter how much time it takes. At the end of the day, it is your process and your future, so it is up to you how you navigate it.