One of my favorite things about education in the US is that you get the chance to go to college without knowing exactly what you want to do. Most schools here give you the option of taking a couple of semesters to figure out your path, and you can even switch majors if you’re not 100 percent sure if where you’re heading is where you want to go.
It may sound like the most obvious system to most of you, but countries like Bolivia and Germany require you to choose a major on day one, and switching majors comes at the price of (most likely) having to start your college career from scratch. The flexibility US colleges offer you is somewhat of a luxury not to be taken for granted.
But, there’s a bit of a flip side to all this flexibility. The University of Massachusetts offers 90 majors housed in 10 schools and colleges. If you’re not entirely sure what you want to do, that number can be quite overwhelming.
That’s why activities such as the Majors Fair are so helpful. You can walk around the fair, take a look at what’s being offered, choose what you’re interested in, and talk to people to find out more information. It’s like having a giant mood board.
Grace Lotti, a freshman on the exploratory track, was one of those wide-eyed students. I stumbled into Lotti as she was trying to organize the big stack of informational fliers she was holding.
Although she's trying to figure out exactly what she wants to major in, Lotti is interested in a variety of subjects such as education, public policy, sustainable community development, and natural resource conservation.
Every major is usually represented at the fair, which was helpful to students—not unlike Lotti—who want to see everything that UMass Amherst has in store for them.
“It’s good to talk to everybody from each major,” Lotti said. “I think I like having everything all in one place so that you look at it all at once, in a kind of unbiased sort of way,” she added about the fair.
Being there as a senior was a strange experience. Seeing so many younger students eager to find more about their paths was definitely a throwback to when my high school would throw college fairs for the juniors and seniors.
I remember walking around my school’s auditorium, taking every pamphlet I could possibly get my hands on, thinking that the possibilities were endless.
Although the fairs back then weren’t so much about picking a specific major but more about choosing colleges, I could see a piece of my younger self in all those wide-eyed students eager to take their first steps toward their future.
Wherever your interests lie, attending events like the majors fair is always helpful if you’re not entirely decided on what you want to major in, or even if you’re just curious about what other paths you could follow.
Either way, it’s okay to start college unsure about your path. Choosing a major can be a hard choice, and sometimes you need to shop around to find out what fits you the best.