The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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No Idea What You Want to Study? No Worries!

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Isenberg Undergraduate Student Services at the University of Massachusetts

Are you unsure what you want to study at the University of Massachusetts? If so, you just joined probably a quarter of incoming students every year at UMass Amherst (or any institution). Plenty of students freak out when not knowing what they want to do, and in some cases those fears only grow more intense when the student changes majors after a year or two in college. If you're one of those students, relax! We are fortunate here to have wonderful faculty and staff to assist you in finding your academic passions.

Every year, there are students who come to campus without a firm idea of what they want to do. Then there are the current students who thought they knew what they wanted to do but get into the classes and realize they're not really passionate about that particular subject. I was in this predicament for the first two years at UMass Amherst, but, thankfully, the excellent advising and counseling available here helped me get on the right path.

For me, the thought of deciding exactly what I wanted to study and major in right after I graduated high school was a daunting thing. My freshman year, I decided to study biology, and at the end of my sophomore year I had decided to switch into business instead. In making such a decision, I was worried about the repercussions of being so late to the game when it came to business classes. However, after going to talk to advisors — both in the biology department and in the Isenberg School of Management — the transition was much smoother than I imagined. Through my transition, I learned many things that are useful to anyone who is unsure what they are going to study or are in middle of deciding whether to switch majors or not.

First, you have time! Just because you spend a semester or so taking classes not relating to your major does not mean you will have to stay at UMass Amherst for another year (although I'd love to have more time here). Oftentimes, students are surprised by classes they take because they find a new interest that they never would have found otherwise! There are hundreds of courses to take, and as long as you are in communication with your advisors, there is no reason to stress about graduating on time.

Second, it doesn’t mean you failed. Some students feel as if changing majors is a sign of defeat, or that it makes them look like a failure if they change because the major was too difficult. For me, I thought this was the case, but in reflection I realized biology simply did not fit with what I wanted to do with my career. Switching your studies and making such decisions is not a sign of defeat, but rather a signal that you're finding yourself and have a better idea of what you want to do!

Lastly, you did not waste your time. Students think that going into UMass Amherst on the exploratory track, or changing majors after their first or second year means they wasted their first two years at the university. However, this simply is not the case. The amount of experience gained from taking a variety of classes greatly outweighs any of that. Think about the friends you may have made, the clubs you may have joined, or an interest you might have found! Try not to be scared about coming in undecided or changing your major after a year or two. These things happen more frequently than you think! 

Overall, college is a time where you find your interests, passions, and path to your future career. You may already know exactly what you want to do, or you may not. Regardless, I've found that UMass Amherst is the perfect place to figure it out!


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