Laura Berlinsky-Schine 6 min read 12th Grade, College Lists

10 Great Colleges for Undecided Majors

Some students know what they want to do with the rest of their lives early in high school. They have the next couple decades all mapped out — whether they include med school, reporting from the trenches, starting a business, or something else entirely.

 

Others are still exploring their passions by the time senior year rolls around, and the idea of having to choose a major, before they even set foot on campus, is intimidating. 

 

If you fall into the latter category, don’t worry. There are many schools perfect for undecided majors that allow you to hone your interests and identify the strengths that set you up for success in the career world.

 

What should you look for in a college if you’re still grappling with your choices? And which colleges are best for helping you find that focus area? Let’s take a look.

 

Undecided Majors: What to Look for in a College

 

1. Later major declaration requirements

 

While many colleges require you to declare your major at the end of freshman year, others give you the flexibility to wait until the end of sophomore year. This is beneficial to students who need a little more time to explore their interests.

 

2. A more flexible curriculum

 

Some colleges have rigid core curricula with numerous requirements in different areas. However, there are many schools that have few requirements or none at all — in other words, an open curriculum — which enables students to spend more time dabbling in a diverse array of disciplines, rather than having to focus on meeting strict requirements. 

 

3. Opportunities to create your own major

 

Many colleges give you the opportunity to create your own major, usually with guidance and approval from faculty. There are different variations of this, such as combining multiple concentrations or focusing on a particular niche.

 

4. Mentorship programs for undecided majors

 

You have many peers who are also unsure of what they want to study when they matriculate. In order to help students navigate this decision, some schools provide mentorship programs focused on determining their interests and strengths and how they align with courses of study. 

 

For more tips on picking a college, see our post: What to Look for in a College as an Undecided Major.

 

Should You Pick a Research University or Liberal Arts College?

 

Research universities and liberal arts colleges both offer opportunities for students who are undecided about their major. 

 

Research universities often have pre-professional programs and courses, such as physical therapy and nursing. If you’re even remotely considering a path like this, a university is probably the better choice. They also tend to offer more majors, which makes it more likely that you’ll find something right for you.

 

Meanwhile, liberal arts colleges typically have more flexible curricula that focus on helping students develop general skills that can be applied to most careers, such as critical thinking. Often, they also allow you to declare you major later on, or even create your own (although some universities have this option, too). Because they tend to be less career-focused than universities, they tend to be a good choice for undecided majors.

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Best Research Universities for Undecided Majors

 

1. Brown University

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

U.S. News Ranking: 14

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1440-1550/33-35

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,160

 

Brown’s open curriculum is ideal for undecided students. As the “architect of your own education,” you’re able to direct your own course of study by exploring a wide range of disciplines and courses, without being bogged down with demanding requirements. Once students have sampled different disciplines, they can focus on one of the more than 80 concentrations available, or create their own independent concentration.

 

2. University of Rochester

Location: Rochester, New York

Acceptance Rate: 30%

U.S. News Ranking: 34

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1340-1500/26-34

Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,780

 

The flexible Rochester Curriculum is the cornerstone of the university experience. Students have no general education or core requirements other than a single writing requirement. Students determine where they want to focus their studies (their major) and then select clusters in two areas, each containing three thematically related courses. This is ideal for students who don’t want to be tied down to a prescribed curriculum. For those whose interests don’t fall within a specific department, there’s also the option to create an interdepartmental major.

 

3. Northeastern University

Location: Boston, Massachusetts 

Acceptance Rate: 18%

U.S. News Ranking: 49

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1390-1540/32-35

Undergraduate Enrollment: 14,202

 

Northeastern’s Explore Program equips undeclared students with the resources they need to make an informed decision about their major and career path. Participants can meet with academic advisors and student leaders, as well as attend events that connect them with faculty, students, advisors, and alumni in areas that interest them. They also attend a first-year seminar course where they’ll meet other students in the program. 

 

Students may also create an independent major if their interests don’t fall under one of the 250 majors or 150 combined majors.

 

4. University of Toledo

Location: Toledo, Ohio

Acceptance rate: 95%

U.S. News Ranking: 298-389

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1020-1240/20-26

Enrollment: 15,568

 

The University of Toledo has several opportunities to help students decide on a major. The Undecided Program, for example, allows them to sample diverse course offerings via a custom course plan designed with their academic advisor, receive guidance on reaching their goals, and explore career possibilities.

 

Meanwhile, the Exploratory Living Learning Community (ELLC) enables students to live among undecided peers and share the experience of navigating majors and working with faculty and peer mentors.

 

5. New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Location: New York, New York

Acceptance Rate: 15% (NYU)

U.S. News Ranking: 30 (NYU)

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1350-1530/31-35 (NYU)

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,500

 

NYU’s Gallatin is all about thinking outside the box. Students design their own nontraditional courses of study under the guidance of faculty. Geared toward students who are “focused, intelligent, disciplined, and creative,” the school provides the opportunity to create individualized education. Along with taking courses at Gallatin and other schools within NYU, students participate in experiential learning, such as internships and study abroad, meant to broaden their thinking and connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world.

 

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Undecided Majors

 

1. Amherst College

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts

Acceptance Rate: 13%

U.S. News Ranking: 2

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1420-1560/30-34

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,839

 

There are no distribution requirements and no core curriculum at Amherst. The open curriculum allows students to choose from more than 850 courses while receiving advising from faculty. If that weren’t enough, Amherst students are also able to take advantage of the Five College Consortium in Western Massachusetts, which allows them to take courses and use additional resources, such as libraries, at Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Students may also create their own interdisciplinary majors.

 

2. Grinnell College

Location: Grinnell, Iowa

Acceptance rate: 23%

U.S. News Ranking: 13

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1320-1530/30-33

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,733

 

Outside of your major, you’ll only need to take one course at Grinnell: a First-Year Tutorial, where you’ll choose one of 35 topics and develop writing, critical-thinking, and presentation skills. The open curriculum gives you the chance to sample different courses and disciplines. You may also create your own major if you feel that the opportunities offered don’t quite fit your interests.

 

3. Hamilton College

Location: Clinton, New York

Acceptance Rate: 18%

U.S. News Ranking: 9

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1410-1510/32-34

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,924

 

Students gain a broad liberal arts education at Hamilton, where many matriculate without having a firm idea of the concentration they intend to pursue. Students work with faculty advisors to create an educational plan that reflects their interests and strengths, and don’t need to declare their concentration until spring semester sophomore year; they may also design an interdisciplinary concentration with faculty guidance. The open curriculum encourages them to pursue a range of passions as they undertake various programs, including a Senior Project.

 

4. Smith College

Location: Northampton, Massachusetts

Acceptance Rate: 32%

U.S. News Ranking: 15

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1340-1520/30-33

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,531

 

Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, students at this women’s college navigate an open curriculum meant to help them develop crucial skills. Smith recommends that students pursue coursework in each of seven major fields of knowledge: literature, historical studies, social science, natural science, mathematics and analytic philosophy, the arts, and foreign language. Smithies may also design their own interdepartmental majors.

 

5. Wesleyan University

Location: Middletown, Connecticut

Acceptance rate: 16%

U.S. News Ranking: 20

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1450-1560/33-35

Enrollment: 3,018

 

Wesleyan operates on the principle that student agency encourages lifelong learning. That’s why it has an open curriculum that encourages them to explore different subject areas and create their own general education plan. Students are expected to earn a certain number of credits in each of three areas, for a total of nine general education course credits, and declare their major in their sophomore spring. 

 

Even if you’re unsure of what you’d like to study, it’s still important to start preparing for the college process sooner rather than later. With our free chancing engine, you’ll find out your odds of admission to more than 500 schools, including those on this list. Plus, you’ll receive plenty of guidance on navigating the admissions process. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account to get started!

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.