Many years ago, when I listed my three academic interests on my college applications, I had several things—questions, really—on my mind. The first was a general confusion over what I might actually want to major in, the second was a question of which major would make me the most ~successful~ after graduation, and the third (and the hardest for me to shake, as the type of teenager who was prone to overthinking such decisions) was this creeping question of what admissions counselors might want me to put in this section. Would I be more interesting if I listed Classics instead of History? Would I seem more career-focused if I put International Relations as opposed to Philosophy? Of course, these questions only served to remind me that I was ultimately a little undecided in my major. So then, maybe I just own up to my confusion (authenticity is well-known as a key to the college application, after all) and list my interests as undecided?
Now that I am an admissions counselor, I am finally able to answer my own nervous questions from over 7 years ago. I am here to share my knowledge and tell you exactly how you should think about this question, particularly in regards to how 'decided' we really expect you to be.
First, we call them ‘interests’ and not majors for a reason. We want to know your interests! We absolutely know that you aren’t committing to a major yet—in fact, every student at Tufts enters undecided, so even if you are certain, you can’t commit to a major until you come on campus. In that sense, there's no harm in letting us know what you're thinking about studying–it's helpful for us to better understand your perspective and experiences when you give us a sense of what areas of study get you most excited about learning!
Additionally, I promise there’s no secret way to impress us with your choices—we see people select all sorts of different combinations of interests that aren’t even limited to the school they’re applying to. They might be applying to the School of Engineering with their listed interests as Computer Science, Painting, and Psychology. They might be applying to the SMFA and have their interests listed as Sculpture, Entrepreneurship, and Anthropology. There are essentially endless combinations—what matters most, both for you and for us, is that you’re giving us honest and authentic information about your interests (see, I told you authenticity is key). They don’t have to be verified interests either—you probably haven’t had an Electrical Engineering class in high school, but maybe everything you’ve heard about it has sparked (get it, because it’s electrical engineering) your curiosity, and that’s plenty enough reason to list it!
There's always going to be students who feel truly undecided—and this is not a bad thing! What I would advise, if you feel that being undecided is the most authentic portrayal of your interests, is to provide us with a sense of why that is. Are you super excited about everything? Do you feel like you haven't had the opportunity in high school to explore enough areas to be able to say what you're interested in?
When we’re reading your applications over the coming winter, what matters most is that you’re expressing yourself and your interests in an authentic way that helps us to get to know you and see where you might fit into the Tufts community! The more you share with us, whether your academic interests are niche, weird, or mainstream, it helps us picture how you would fit in on Tufts campus and of course, why you might make a great Jumbo!