Choosing your college major is no small decision, and feeling pressure to do so might be coming at you from all directions. But did you know that CSU has another option entirely? One-third of CSU incoming freshmen choose not to declare a major right away — and we’ve got a system to help students explore everything they’re considering. Read on to see why starting as an Exploratory Studies student might be for you.
#1: You have a lot of interests, but can’t decide which gets top billing.
While you may have a wide range of interests, you may not want to devote four years of study to some of them. There’s a good chance you’re at the stage where you’re debating between just a few areas of study, each with different pros and cons and career prospects — and no clear path forward.
We’ve met more than a few students who come to CSU with multiple talents and incorporate them into their degrees. You may be passionate about dance with a gift for marketing. You may think you’re destined to be a scientist, and suddenly find yourself daydreaming about psychology. As an undeclared student, the sky’s the limit, and that shouldn’t scare you. Be sure to make an appointment with our Undeclared-Exploring advisors, who work with hundreds of students each year to help them explore their passions and design their academic paths.
#2: You aren’t particularly passionate about anything … yet.
Just because you aren’t on fire for a certain subject doesn’t mean you won’t find That Thing that inspires you once you get here. One of the best parts about being an undeclared student is the discovery process, which allows you room to explore everything that even has an ounce of “maybe” to it.
CSU even offers a seminar designed especially for undecided students called Exploring Major Tracks, (you can sign up this for at orientation). In this one-credit seminar, you’ll learn about academic and career options within the various major tracks at CSU, and get some hands-on learning opportunities to explore the areas where your interests and abilities merge.
If you just want a little guidance, you can take our My Majors quiz to help point you in the right direction.
#3: You aren’t sure what you want to do for a career.
Deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life isn’t something you can do on a whim, but CSU offers a number of ways to discover your dream job.
One great way to discover if a career path is right for you is through experiential learning. Put simply, experiential, or “hands-on” learning is just that: experiences. Whether you’re exploring the mountains with the Warner College of Natural Resources or working in the student-run Aspen Grille with the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, CSU can give you that first-hand learning you need to make a truly informed and experienced choice.
In addition, undergrads at CSU — oftentimes in their very-first year — can participate in undergraduate research — something that many large universities only offer to graduate students. You’ll get to do your own academic research with a faculty mentor, and present your research in a variety of events. Starting out as an Exploratory Studies student has no affect on this option, either!
#4: You didn’t get into the major you wanted.
Some majors at CSU accept a limited number of students, each with specific requirements for admission. If you apply for a competitive major and you are not admitted, don’t lose hope! You will either be admitted into your second choice major (as long as you meet the requirements) or into an undeclared interest area related to the competitive major you originally selected. You’ll still work toward your university course requirements, and you’ll get opportunities to up your GPA and/or meet other requirements for the competitive major. Once you do, you can apply to transfer into the competitive major from Undeclared-Exploring, and start on major-specific coursework. And in the meantime, you’ll have a little wiggle room to take classes outside the major and explore other interests.
Bonus: Tips from other Exploratory Studies students
“Give yourself grace and the space to pick a major. It’s OK if it takes some time, as most freshmen that come in with a declared major are unsure and many end up switching majors within the first year.”
“I had an exploratory studies advisor who helped me pick my classes at freshman orientation. She was extremely helpful. I told her the things I was interested in and the path I could kind of see myself going down and she helped me to register for a variety of classes so I could see if I liked them or not.”
“Recognize and name the root of your passions; this is a good way to start looking into different majors and careers.”
“I talked to my advisor about the different fields I was looking into. I was very interested in the medical field but also loved my English classes in high school. My advisor let me know that I could major in English and still be pre-OT or pre-nursing. Before meeting with my advisor I didn’t know this was an option, and he assured me that it would work — though it was a combination not many people had done before. He relieved some of the pressure of choosing immediately and made me aware of an academic path I would not have known about on my own.”
“It is easier to come in without a major than forcing yourself into a major and then realizing it’s not for you. If you come in without a major, you only have to do the declaring paperwork once you decide (instead of the paperwork that goes along with changing your major to another one later).”
“Do not feel rushed to declare. You might have friends who come in with a certain major (and stick with that major until graduation day) but that does not mean that you have to do the same. Take your first year to get your all-university core classes done, and give yourself a chance to explore different majors and departments so that you don’t majorly regret it.”