Can I Enroll in Online College as a Freshman Without Declaring a Major?

The two most frequent questions many high school seniors have to answer are “Where are you going to attend college?” and “What are you going to major in?”. While many seniors have some idea of where they want to attend college, deciding on a major can be very overwhelming. Having to decide what to study for the next four years also involves deciding what one wants to invest thousands of dollars in to study and ultimately what one wants to pursue a career in. This prospect is enough to make any 17-year-old panic.

What to Consider Before Declaring a Major

Declaring a major is a relatively simple task but can have plenty of long-term ramifications. The major will be something that one spends a lot of time learning about and studying, so it should be something the student really loves. Someone who is very uncomfortable with numbers and detests math most likely would not enjoy being a math major even if the future earnings potential is strong. Declaring a major later in the college career can be beneficial since interests often change during the course of four years at college. What one enjoys during high school may not be enjoyable in college. Likewise, prior to entering college, one might not have experience in certain subjects that become quite enjoyable in college.

In addition to finding something the student loves, the current job market and future market outlook should be considered. While a student may love writing, majoring in journalism may not pay off after college in a job market where most people find news instantly online, especially if the student hopes to work in the newspaper industry. Likewise, there is a significant need for qualified mental health professionals so if the student enjoys working with people, pursuing a degree in psychology may lead to a successful and rewarding career after college.

Some students choose to declare two majors. A double major is useful if the student is entering particular fields, like education. In the education field, a double major of education and history can lead to a career teaching history. In the social sciences field, a double major in psychology and sociology are common. Choosing to major in two subjects allows the student to focus on two fields that the student enjoys, which can be beneficial if he or she has difficulty narrowing the major down to just one area of study.

When Do You Declare a Major?

According to the newspaper, The Coloradoan, 80% of students begin college without choosing a major. Of those that do have a major chosen before the first day of class, over 50% change their minds before graduation. The average student will change a major two to three times during his or her college career. Only a small number of students will actually complete college in the field of study they declared as a high school senior.

College can be an important time for self reflection and growth. Therefore, the first couple years of college–even online college–should be spent taking a variety of courses in order to narrow down a field of interest. In a liberal arts college, the required core classes will expose the student to a wide variety of fields, such as math, science and philosophy. By the third year of school, the student should be ready to declare a major. Some students also declare a second major during the senior year of college.

Incoming college freshmen need not worry about declaring a major prior to beginning classes. In fact, even if one does have a proposed major, it is likely that the student will change his or her mind within the first couple years of classes. However, by the third year of school, many schools require students to declare majors and begin to focus on one or two fields of study in order to graduate in four years.