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The Daily Tar Heel

Entering college is an opportunity to explore yourself and your future. It is a chance to form new connections, explore new interests, to possibly redefine who you are in a new environment. This is beneficial in a social sense, but attempting to apply this principle in an academic context is more difficult at UNC, especially regarding choosing your major.

Thankfully for many UNC students, Carolina does not require you to declare a major when applying. While this choice is likely made to support the University's ideal of enhanced access to learning, if UNC truly wants to promote that access, it cannot lack support for undecided majors.

Though some may see them as simply indecisive, undecided majors embody the spirit of college — the idea that the years you spend at school are meant to be when you discover yourself. Undecided majors are simply extending this concept to their studies. As a freshman, it is absurd to be expected to have your entire life planned out. Why should it be assumed that everyone knows what they want to study from the moment they step on campus? 

Undecided majors feel the pressure of the mere year-and-a-half allowance to pick an academic path. In the best case scenario, they have an inkling of what they want to do and will be able to direct themselves toward a few majors to feel out. But in the worst case — one in which the more than 70 majors and minors that UNC offers all sound as equally interesting as they are overwhelming — what is an undecided major left to do?

Perhaps they should just choose any area of study to get it over with and avoid a registration hold. But in this scenario, where it may feel that this choice will determine your entire future, choosing just anything to study may be just as terrible as choosing nothing at all.

It is not like the resources UNC provides are much of a help to alleviate the pressure. UNC Advising can only provide so much assistance to students. Their job is not to decide what a student will study for them, but to provide advice and direction based on what a student identifies as their specific interests. UNC Advising’s helpfulness diminishes greatly in providing direction when you have no idea of what you want your future to look like.

The failure to extend resources that are afforded to declared majors is another obstacle faced by undecided students. Department-specific opportunities like events designed for students to hone in on their interests are not as accessible to undeclared students. Ironically, these events would be exactly the opportunities that undecided majors need to evaluate what they want to study. 

UNC should consider extending the time allotted for undecided majors to explore academic areas, more than they already do. An exploratory studies program similar to the one offered at N.C. State University would allow students to take basic classes across a variety of possible majors to better determine what interests them.

The major could allow students discover their interests by taking multiple introductory courses, extend experienced mentors to guide students without any idea of their niche and not lock them out of the registration process if they cannot decide in time, assuring no student falls behind. 

As a declared major, I have yet to face the constant struggle that a lack of defined direction for my academic future provokes. However, I certainly do not have my entire future figured out and appreciate the fact that the next four years will allow me time to do so. Undecided students should be afforded the same lenience when determining their major, and I hope for their future, as well as perhaps their sanity, that they receive the support they deserve to choose a path forward.

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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