This column is devoted to sharing student and faculty input on the various majors offered at Lawrence. The goal is to highlight areas of study that are not well known and to provide undecided students an inside look at things they may want to study.
While Lawrence University offers many different majors and areas of study that provides students with unique opportunities to engage, to develop new ways of thinking and to connect with one another, students who have not yet found the area of study on which they want to focus most of their time can still have these same opportunities. It is fairly common to find freshmen and sophomores at Lawrence who are undecided, or ‘multi-interested,’ as Lawrence students and faculty like to say. With so many different areas of study to choose from—ranging from musical to scientific; art history to linguistics—there is no need to choose one right away. Students can take their time finding what they are most passionate about by experimenting with the wide range of available courses.
Going into college with an undecided major can actually be a great opportunity for students to experience many different areas of study. Freshman Tashi Haig commented, “Coming to school without a set major allowed me to not be defined by my major and to take a variety of classes which interested me rather than having to immediately start following a class sequence.”
Freshman Max Craig shared his perspective as well, commenting, “I always found picking a major before you test it out to be a weird decision. Maybe this is because I’m indecisive, but I feel like pre-determining your major could pigeonhole you into taking specific types of classes, without a lot of room to feel out other possibilities. If you’re coming to college with a lot of confidence in one major, declare it. But if you’re not so sure, being undecided gives you a lot more wiggle room.”
Haig also spoke to this idea as she stated, “I feel that coming to your first year of college without a set major allows you the space to grow and change. Once you start college, a lot can change about yourself, so it’s good to not be too fixated on a certain path in case you find a new passion while learning new things in college.”
Craig spoke to the benefits of going into college with an undecided major, commenting, “I’ve broadened my horizons by taking a wide array of classes. I’ve taken classes in biology, anthropology and philosophy, to name a few. All of them have been super interesting, and I don’t think I would’ve taken them otherwise. I’ve also been able to find which classes interest me the most, which has brought me closer to determining a major. I don’t think I’d be as secure in a choice of major if I chose it before I tested other subjects out.”
Over the course of this year as a student with an undecided major, Craig has come to feel more confident about which area of study he wants to focus on. He stated, “Overall, I’m fairly confident that English will end up being my major. Every book I’ve read at Lawrence, I’ve loved. I even liked Freshman Studies, and I like the feeling of having written something good. When I first came to Lawrence, I was leaning toward Environmental Studies (ENST). Upon testing out an ENST course, however, I figured out that the subject wasn’t for me. I probably wouldn’t be as content about eliminating it as a potential path had I come to Lawrence already having declared ENST as my major, which is why I’m glad I remained undecided.”
Haig had a similar experience in navigating through possible majors as she has so many different interests. She stated, “I came to school with several humanities, arts and English classes lined up. I enjoy humanities classes as they broaden my perspective and understanding of different people and cultures around the world, while English has always been a favorite subject of mine, since I love writing. Art is something which I have always found therapeutic and rewarding since I love the opportunity to think creatively and represent these ideas physically.”
The benefits of going into college with an undecided major are in-tune with the benefits of a liberal arts model for learning. Haig spoke to this, stating, “Liberal arts education emphasizes learning many kinds of subjects to have a well-rounded education, and I feel that being undecided allows you to take a wide range of courses which can fulfill these requirements and make you branch out of your comfort zone to realize where your interests truly lie.”
Here at Lawrence, there is great academic value in remaining open to new ways of thinking no matter what major you declare, and to be excited about studying different areas and finding how they connect to one another. “A liberal arts education is supposed to broaden your horizons and to feed your curiosities, and being undecided has done just that for me,” commented Craig.
Coming to Lawrence with an undecided major is welcomed as a great opportunity for students. Undecided students can be content with not knowing exactly which courses lie ahead of them in their studies, giving them a lot of room to be curious, thoughtful and passionate. Here at Lawrence, students are encouraged to draw inspiration from the spirit of being undecided, or “multi-interested.”
As I wrote this column, I personally felt the spirit of being multi-interested. Despite the vast array of areas of study from which we can choose, I have witnessed the same gleam in the eyes of professors and students alike whenever they talk about their true passions. While writing this column, I began to see how all of our passions are connected and how they drive us to pursue an understanding of the world around us—an understanding that could bring us together instead of creating division. This is a goal for which we all can strive.