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 undecided in my major. So then, why shouldn’t 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 why you shouldn’t put ‘undecided’, or at the very least, why you should not list ‘undecided’ in all three spots under the ‘Academic Interest’ question, even if you do in fact, feel undecided.
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. So, there’s no need to tell us that you’re undecided! And there’s certainly nothing to be gained from telling us that you’re undecided three times! In that case, we are left wondering, well, what is this student interested in if none of our 150 majors and minors have sparked their interest? Why are they applying if there’s nothing that they’re interested in studying at Tufts?
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!
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!