A Statistical Approach to Deciding Your Major

There are a hundred different ways to try and decipher your college major and what it should be. You can ask yourself a plethora of questions and still feel lost – even when you’re in college. So then, is it really that important that you pick a major before you apply?

The statistics say it’s common for college freshmen to go in undecided.

In fact, the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California released a collection of data from 1970 to 2010 comparing the characteristics of college freshmen. Consistently the majority of freshman listed their area of study as undecided or other.

Let’s take a look at the break down for 2010:

  • Data processing and Computer Programming – 0.5 percent
  • Computer Science – 1 percent
  • Communications – 1.8 percent
  • Physical Science – 2.7 percent
  • Education – 7.2 percent
  • Social Science – 8.9 percent
  • Engineering – 10.3 percent
  • Biological Studies – 10.8 percent
  • Business – 13.7 percent
  • Undecided or Other – 45.9 percent

So what does this mean? Are freshmen just less inclined to pick a major before they enter college? Yet, throughout all of the data collected since 1970 the highest percentages were in undecided. It goes to show that even if you don’t know what you’re doing going into things you aren’t alone. You’re actually part of the majority.

It takes us time to figure out what to do with our lives. It takes us experience to know what we can do and what we can’t do. My professor in my first class of my last quarter at DePaul asked what going to college was about. Of course, we all sat silently since it was the first day of class. He said, in a booming voice, “to make money!”

And, well, that is what a lot of us think of when we talk about an education. It’s something to start our career and give us the knowledge to do a job, to make money and to live. Even the statistics support this. They asked what was important to freshmen in college and it showed the majority of 77.4 percent said they wanted to be financially well off. Only 46.9 percent said they wanted to develop a meaningful philosophy of life. Finally, the smallest was 33.2 percent wanting to keep up with political affairs.

We want money. That’s what we think about when we think about picking a college major: what will make me money? Maybe that’s why the second highest next to undecided is business majors. But is that the only reason to get a bachelor’s degree?

The same professor said that we go to school so that eventually, when we find a job we can work with people we can live with everyday. It seems like a strange idea, getting an education to work with people, but he explained how his daughter worked for five years at one company and was completely fed up with the people and the tasks. What did she do? She went back to school to find something else to do with her life.

And that’s the thing. You can go back. The world and your experience will take you one way, which might not be what you planned on when you were 18 years old. So don’t be afraid to be undecided and find out what makes you happy and go for it, because you can always find your way along the path.

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Mollie Diedrich

Mollie Diedrich

Mollie Diedrich is a senior creative writing major at DePaul University. She is minoring in journalism and aspires to be the next big food writer. Her love of writing propels all she does from her food blog to online magazine articles. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably baking. She has a ferocious sweet tooth and adores cupcakes of all shapes and sizes.

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