Choosing a major was quite a journey for me. I applied into Tufts as a Child Study and Human Development (CSHD) major. Why? Honestly, it was more of…
I went to college “undecided.” If you come to Tufts, you’ll enroll as “undecided,” too. Engineers will have a year to pick a major, Arts and Sciences students will have two years, and everyone will be granted the flexibility to switch/add/swap/subtract as needed.
This is a good thing seeing as you’re 17 and even those among you who declare an interest with confidence are probably going to shift with time. Also, not knowing what you want to study gives you permission to explore. I hope you do, and I hope you love it, and I hope you trust yourself when you change your mind, discover a new passion, or find inspiration somewhere unexpected.
But don’t apply “undecided.” And I say this in the most literal way possible. When you complete your application to Tufts and are prompted to answer the question, “What is your first/second/third choice academic interest?” don’t pick “undecided” each time.
My job as a reader is to figure out who you are and who you might become in four years at Tufts. So imagine I’m flipping through a file and I see involvement in community service with a peer group, an essay that pays heartfelt tribute to family camping trips, recommendations that laud leadership abilities, and a "Why Tufts?" that references our property in the White Mountains. My gears start turning and I think, “Great, totally the kind of student who might end up being a Tufts Wilderness Orientation leader.” If that student is undecided, my ability to extrapolate on the evidence at hand might end there.
But let’s say that student is pre-med. Now my next thought might be, “… and they’ll join TEMS and be a Certified Wilderness First Responder and probably save someone’s life up at the Loj.” Or they’re leaning Environmental Studies and I’ll think, “… and they’ll get involved with Earth and Ocean Sciences research and do field work evaluating soil samples while rappelling down waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest.” Or they indicate Education and Sociology, and I’ll continue with, “… and they’ll intern with Sesame Street developing a curriculum about outdoor appreciation for urban youth.”
It’s a fuller picture, right? I’m simply pondering possibilities, but the vision of you three years down the line grows richer the more I know.
By selecting a potential major on the application, you are not committing to anything but you are giving me more evidence with which to build your case. The student who thinks they are Chemistry and Math is different from the student who thinks they are English and Dance is different from the student who thinks they are Religion and Computer Science. One combination is not better than the others, but each tells me something about an applicant’s interests, personality, and potential role on our campus.
So scroll through the list and pick topics that sound interesting to you in this specific moment in time. If you’re staunchly “undecided,” let that be one of your three selections. But don’t choose it three times over and deprive me quality information about the direction you might go. We’re giving you a space to share something about yourself. Use it!
(Image courtesy of Andy Porter - original image and license here)