Reflections on being a “deciding major”

Reflections on being a “deciding major”


Contributing Writer

Katie Yoder, first year, describes the struggle of being undecided.  Photo by Courtney Wengerd

Katie Yoder, first year, describes the struggle of being undecided.
Photo by Courtney Wengerd

Among the many things I’m uncertain about, I’m unsure if anyone really cares what a first-year student has to say about not having a major.

My consolation is that I am sure that I’m the only person in the world who has ever had doubts about decisions for their future. No? Well, I guess this one goes out to anyone who has ever questioned their own choices.

When making decisions about what college to attend, none of them were based on a specific field I wanted to study. The closest I came to that kind of choice happened when a professor at Hesston College told me that I should call myself a “deciding major” instead of “undecided.” I thought, “Yes! This is a place where they put a positive spin on being unsure!”

And yet, I did not go to Hesston, because it is a two-year college. That meant I would have to make another life decision after just two more years. Instead, I decided that I could be a deciding student at heart here at Goshen College under that sadder moniker “undecided.”

I find some liberation in not committing myself to any area of study, but as a deciding student, the question that most consistently fills me with dread is still: “So what’s your major?” I know that my response, that I am “undecided,” will require one of three reactions:

Reaction 1: “But what are you considering?”

I know that it’s perfectly reasonable to inquire about my interests, but I typically grant a shifty response. Things like “Not Education” or “Maybe Something Like History” or if I’m feeling ambitious “Probably Hobology” (the science of being a hobo).

It’s not that I’m not considering certain things more than others. It’s just that you can be an undecided person who has actually declared a major and are now having deep doubts about this choice.

I refuse to declare anything before most of my deepest doubts are assuaged. I would be hiding behind a false decision if I had declared short of what I felt confident about.

Reaction 2: “It’s okay! You’ve got time!”

Again, this is another well-meaning statement. It is okay. I do have some time. But it’s the mere implication that there is some time frame in which to decide that is somewhat nerve-wracking.

Reaction 3: “Good.”

The rarest response, but my favorite by far. I most recently received it from an apparently legendary art professor emeritus, who added, “I’ve always been undecided.” No further conversation required.

The person who utters a response like this instinctively understands that some people need to allow their life-choices space in which to grow. A pursuit of more information for their own satisfaction is unnecessary, and probably won’t get them a real answer.

So in conclusion, I’ll leave all you people who know exactly what you’re doing with your life three reasons why it’s okay to be deciding about things: 1) you can claim to be studying Hobology 2) you have more space to objectively observe your possibilities 3) you can realize that when you finally do make a decision, nothing is truly final or decided.

With every decision made comes more to make, so just enjoy the decision-making process.

Written by Record

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