Why the Most Common College Question Is the Most Difficult to Answer

Courtney Mann, Staff Reporter

“What do you want to major in, and why?” For 20 to 50 percent of high schoolers who go into college as “undecided” in terms of their major, this question poses some conflict among students who are now challenging themselves to write an outwitting, outsmarting, and outstanding response. How can you write an essay on a prompt you know nothing about? That is the true question to think about when attempting to answer one of the most bewildering questions amidst college applications. 

Perhaps you are in the 20-50 percentile. Many people like you have already traversed the web for “how to answer the question of what major I want to pursue if I do not know?” or something along those lines. Or, have you already tried taking the “majors quiz,” to spark some sort of interest as to which major you would enjoy? What conflicts with me the most is that 50 to 75 percent of all undergraduate students change majors at least once before earning their degree. So, do not fret if you are undecided. 

When answering this prompt, be true. If you truly do not know–say exactly that. For most colleges, going in undecided will not affect your chances of getting accepted. Admission officers should understand that for many students, committing to a degree path right out of high school can be challenging. There should be no added pressure or insecurities if you decide to go into college “undecided,” because this just leaves space for exploring new things and finding your niche later on. 

And, if you do have a chosen major, that is great! However, be a bit optimistic about it. People change, and that is entirely alright. The person you are going to college as, or the high schooler you are writing that essay about which major you hope to pursue, may change. College is a whole different playing field, and you may find something you love, only when you are open-minded to new opportunities. 

The question “what do you want to major in, and why?” is not simple–it is much more complex than many think it to be. However, the way I see it, this question gives an opening for admissions officers to see who you are as a person. Maybe you participated in Model United Nations and want to major in International Relations, or you loved your AP Computer Science class and now want to major in CS. Maybe you have been in a multitude of different clubs and activities, but still do not have a clue about what you want to go into. It truly does not matter, as long as the answer is honest, and ties into what you love to do. Even if you are undecided, you should not have to plan out your entire life just yet.