Being Undecided

You got into Rochester! Congratulations! If you were admitted to multiple institutions, one thing you’re likely to spend a lot of time thinking about as you consider your options is what to major in.

These days, there seems to be a lot of pressure to pick a major before you’ve even stepped on campus. If you know what you want to pursue, great! But if you don’t, or if you feel torn between two or even five areas, you may feel unsettled or perhaps lagging behind your peers.

But being undecided—or multidecided, as we like to call it—is a powerful thing.

Why tie yourself to a singular course of study before you’ve considered all your options?

If you’ve known since you were three that you wanted to be an engineer, then you’re likely excited to get started on your engineering degree and proud to unofficially declare your engineering major as a first year.

But if you want to get back into ballet, if you excelled in math in high school, enjoy reading poetry on the weekends, and are interested in starting your own small business, you may feel torn about whether to study dance, math, literature, or business.

And you may in fact be that die-hard engineer, but you also have a twinge of regret that you’ll never seriously study the saxophone again. You gave it up years ago to focus on “more important” studies. . . .

At Rochester, you don’t have to sacrifice your varied interests in the pursuit of choosing a single path.

Your first two years of college should be a time for exploration. Investigate what an English major requires. Take a dance class for the heck of it. See whether you prefer statistics or calculus. Learn about career outcomes for business students.

Do your research during your first and sophomore years, so that by the time you have to officially declare a major (or majors) at the end of your sophomore year, you can make an informed decision.

If you’re that engineering student haunted by the saxophone in the back of your closet, look into taking music classes at Eastman. While engineering programs are rigorous, you have plenty of wiggle room at Rochester to pursue other areas and even study abroad.

Plus, consider that the picture you’ve always had in your head of what college would be like and who you would be may very well change once you arrive. You will meet students from all over the world, be exposed to new ideas, and discover courses you didn’t even know where a thing (hello, Digital Media Studies 110: Video Game History). You may arrive certain about what you’ll study, only to change your mind by mid-September.

You’re allowed—and encouraged—to change your mind.


So how does this all play out at Rochester? You may have heard rumblings about clusters. A cluster is a set of three related courses you are required to take outside of your major’s area of study.

Rochester’s academic offerings are split into three areas of study: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. You must study something from each area of study. So if you decided to major in business, you’ve already fulfilled the social sciences requirement. And through your explorations during your first two years, you ended up completing three related courses (i.e., a cluster) in dance and therefore fulfilled your humanities requirement. You also realized calculus is, well, fun, and decided to minor in it. Boom, there’s your natural sciences requirement done.

And you still have room to explore before graduation.

So, although you found out English classes aren’t really for you (you just like reading poetry, you’re not so into analyzing it), your roommate got you into Mexican literature. So you take a Spanish poetry class; you can’t get enough of Rosario Castellanos. By junior year, this has inspired you to study abroad in Mexico, which enhances your international and cross-cultural knowledge, a must for any business major.


Being undecided right now allows you to keep an open mind and remain agile as you try new things. And you may end up somewhere you never thought you’d be, and find out it’s exactly where you were meant to be all along.

At Rochester, you’ll have the time and flexibility to explore different courses, hobbies, ideas, and interests to find a blend of experiences you’ll enjoy. Our unique, self-directed curriculum and supportive community make it possible for you to design a creative future and effect positive social change.

You’ll be ready for a lifetime of growth, and find yourself adaptable when new opportunities and unexpected circumstances come along.

So if you’re undecided, wear it like a badge of honor. You’re on your way to something truly great.

r options is what to major in.

These days, there seems to be a lot of pressure to pick a major before you’ve even stepped on campus. If you know what you want to pursue, great! But if you don’t, or if you feel torn between two or even five areas, you may feel unsettled or perhaps lagging behind your peers.

But being undecided—or multidecided, as we like to call it—is a powerful thing.

Why tie yourself to a singular course of study before you’ve considered all your options?

If you’ve known since you were three that you wanted to be an engineer, then you’re likely excited to get started on your engineering degree and proud to unofficially declare your engineering major as a first year.

But if you want to get back into ballet, if you excelled in math in high school, enjoy reading poetry on the weekends, and are interested in starting your own small business, you may feel torn about whether to study dance, math, literature, or business.

And you may in fact be that die-hard engineer, but you also have a twinge of regret that you’ll never seriously study the saxophone again. You gave it up years ago to focus on “more important” studies. . . .

At Rochester, you don’t have to sacrifice your varied interests in the pursuit of choosing a single path.

Your first two years of college should be a time for exploration. Investigate what an English major requires. Take a dance class for the heck of it. See whether you prefer statistics or calculus. Learn about career outcomes for business students.

Do your research during your first and sophomore years, so that by the time you have to officially declare a major (or majors) at the end of your sophomore year, you can make an informed decision.

If you’re that engineering student haunted by the saxophone in the back of your closet, look into taking music classes at Eastman. While engineering programs are rigorous, you have plenty of wiggle room at Rochester to pursue other areas and even study abroad.

Plus, consider that the picture you’ve always had in your head of what college would be like and who you would be may very well change once you arrive. You will meet students from all over the world, be exposed to new ideas, and discover courses you didn’t even know where a thing (hello, Digital Media Studies 110: Video Game History). You may arrive certain about what you’ll study, only to change your mind by mid-September.

You’re allowed—and encouraged—to change your mind.


So how does this all play out at Rochester? You may have heard rumblings about clusters. A clusters is a set of three related courses you are required to take outside of your major’s area of study.

Rochester’s academic offerings are split into three areas of study: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. You must study something from each area of study. So if you decided to major in business, you’ve already fulfilled the social sciences requirement. And through your explorations during your first two years, you ended up completing three related courses (i.e., a cluster) in dance and therefore fulfilled your humanities requirement. You also realized calculus is, well, fun, and decided to minor in it. Boom, there’s your natural sciences requirement done.

And you still have room to play before graduation.

So, although you found out English classes aren’t really for you (you just like reading poetry, you’re not so into analyzing it to death), your roommate got you into Mexican literature. So you take a Spanish poetry class; you can’t get enough of Rosario Castellanos. By junior year, this has inspired you to study abroad in Mexico, which enhances your international and cross-cultural knowledge, a must for any business major.


Being undecided allows you to keep an open mind and remain agile as you try new things. And you may end up somewhere you never thought you’d be, and find out it’s exactly where you were meant to be all along.

Your career and life will likely be non-linear and full of exciting chance occurrences. At Rochester, you’ll prepare for that by having the time and flexibility to explore different majors, courses, hobbies, and interests to find a blend of experiences you’ll enjoy. Our unique, self-directed curriculum and supportive community make it possible for you to design a creative future and effect positive social change.

You’ll be ready for a lifetime of growth, and find yourself adaptable when new opportunities and unexpected circumstances come along.

So if you’re undecided, wear it like a badge of honor. You’re on your way to something truly great.

About the author

URAdmissions

URAdmissions features guest bloggers (both students and staff) who write about specialized programs, events, and opportunities at Rochester.

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