Why The Undecided Zone Is a Powerful Place to Be

For some college students, choosing a major may feel uncomplicated because they've always known what they wanted to do. For others, it can be a time of intense internal deliberation and uncertainty.

By Sharon Callender — October 12, 2022

Why The Undecided Zone Is a Powerful Place to Be

We live in a world driven by choices. The decision to press the snooze button on your alarm clock, study instead of scrolling through social media feeds, or go to the gym on a rainy Saturday morning when all you want to do is sleep, are choices that determine the direction of your day. Our big and seemingly insignificant decisions can make or break our weeks, months, and years even if we are unaware of it.

When deciding to select a major, every college student feels the external and internal pressure to make the right choice. It's a decision that will not only impact what you will study over the next four years, but also your career path, what your salary range could potentially be, and the life you want to build. For some college students, choosing a major may feel uncomplicated because they’ve always known what they wanted to do. For others, it can be a time of intense internal deliberation and uncertainty.

This zone of uncertainty can sometimes be perceived negatively because, as humans, we are obsessed with having answers and knowing what the outcome will be. But being in the undeclared major zone or any situation where we seek an answer about a new direction or path are veiled opportunities for self-discovery, exploration, personal growth, and profound possibility.

Here are five tips to help you discover the power of being an undeclared major:

What Do You Really Want?

Having an undeclared status is the perfect time to clarify who you are and what you want. Most of us have started and eventually abandoned things in our lives because it was no longer the right fit for us. It might have been music lessons, a sport, or a hobby we grew weary of. The undeclared space offers you freedom and a fresh canvas to paint your masterpiece, which aligns with who you are now.

As you ponder what your future major could be, think about two things: What brings me joy? and What am I able to do with ease because I have a natural ability/talent? Focusing on the answers to these two questions can lead you to a declared major and minor or maybe even a double major. Gaining clarity about your authentic self and what you are passionate about will make your undeclared journey a beautiful roadmap to the major that best complements your future career path.

Enjoy the Detour

Sometimes we don't know exactly where we are going, and that's okay. During your college career, you may change majors multiple times. When finding your perfect major becomes difficult, remember that you are on a journey of discovery. Each class you took and paper you wrote related to a major you changed expanded your intellectual knowledge and your own awareness of what is best for you. Even though this type of experience may look and feel like a detour, it's another form of movement and momentum on your road to growth.

The detour of being undeclared for an extended period of time will still get you to your desired destination by taking the longer, scenic route. There are wonderful benefits to being open to the scenery around you. Your scenery may be internships, clubs, and courses that you may not have considered because you were previously on a specific academic track. An undeclared status keeps you open to your limitless potential and the abundant possibilities in your college environment.

Embrace the Power of Flexibility

In the undeclared zone, you are evolving. A beautiful metamorphosis is underway in your life. When you tap into the life skill of flexibility, you give yourself the emotional bandwidth needed to lean into change and what is possible rather than dwelling on the past. Flexibility creates resilience when you may feel stuck and unsure about an area of study or anything else you are going through. When you experience that twinge of confusion, frustration, or self-doubt, ask these questions and/or use them as a journaling prompt: What am I learning about myself because of this situation? How is this situation making me better as a person? Flexibility is a superpower that keeps you focused on positive transformation by adapting to the flow of life rather than resisting it.

The Undeclared MENU (Moments Explored, New Understanding)

View your undeclared season like a restaurant menu. It's a time to explore and experience the vast options available. Sample the buffet of choices by "tasting" something new at least once a month. This practice mentally preps you for change and growth in every area of your life. As an undeclared major, you are exploring your surroundings to understand what inspires and excites you. The only way to know what works for you is to investigate new things. What is on your menu that you would like to try? Is it yoga, a philosophy class, or the anime club you wanted to join in high school but never did? Seize the moment! All the knowledge you uncover will support your quest for finding a major and help you to become a well-rounded person in the process.

Discover the Power of Asking Yourself Questions

The only way to find answers is through questioning and taking inspired action based on what you've learned. Figuring out your college major involves this same process. Look at the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of your life and dive into a space of clarity about your ideal future self that college helps you become. Imagine this version of yourself and consider these questions:

  • Who do I want to be?
  • What actions will I take today to become this person?
  • Where do I need to be today to become the person I want to be?
  • When will I find time to set daily goals and act on them?
  • Why do I want to be this person?

Determining the answers to your who, what, where, when, and why questions will alter over time, but they are the foundation for living on purpose and staying motivated as you decide on your major and the life you want to create post-college.

Remember, your undeclared season can be empowering and life-changing!

Sharon Callender

Sharon Callender

Rev. Sharon Callender is an interfaith minister, assistant registrar, and coach with certifications in life purpose, mindfulness & spiritual coaching. She specializes in helping individuals discover clarity, healing, and self-love through creative expression. Sharon is also a published fiction author and poet who is currently pursuing her Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree at The New Seminary.
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