“You won’t know until you try.”
This is a common phrase that most people have heard their parents, family, and teachers say, and college is the place where it is normally applied. It’s where students go to experience the adult world before having to be a part of it, so why do admissions departments force them to decide on a career path before they’ve even been accepted? This is the question that many applicants are asking admission offices all across the country. Most colleges answer the question by saying that it benefits students by allowing the college to place them into classes that will benefit their major. However, choosing a major on applications is ultimately counter-productive.
College is meant to be the final testing of the waters before entering the workforce. It should serve as a place to try new things without commitment. By adding an important decision about majors and career paths on the application form, colleges are essentially asking students to commit to a life and career path before they enter college and experience classes and extracurricular activities. This proves to be a problem, as many students change their major while still in college.
According to a research study done by the U.S Department of Education in 2017, about one third of students working towards bachelor’s degrees changed their majors at least once within 3 years of enrollment. Placing students in courses beneficial to their initial major choice is ineffective and causes many students to take classes that may not be valuable to their final chosen careers.
Colleges may defend the major choice part of their application by saying that it helps the admissions department properly place students in classes. Although this is a valid point, many college applicants think that one way they may increase their likelihood of getting into a competitive college is by choosing a more demanding or challenging major, instead of something they are interested in and could see themselves pursuing. With no background to support their intended major, many students fall short in the application process and end up not getting in, or end up in classes not fit for their interests and skill sets.
Instead of forcing commitment upon college students, admissions departments may instead admit the applicant by analyzing their previous performance in education and extracurricular activities. Many college applicants worry themselves with boosting their GPA’s and extracurricular resumes, only to not choose a major they are interested in on their application, hoping to get into their dream school. Choosing which applicants are accepted based on the obscurity or security of their major or by their ability to commit is not reasonable, as students are still exploring themselves, reaching the end of their adolescence, and beginning to experience the career world.
Ultimately, forcing applicants to choose their intended college major is unproductive and unnecessary. Students go to college to grow and experience the world before being tied down to a career, but this addition causes the opposite. When this is done, many students change their intended major within the first three years of college, indicating that admission policies should be changed. College should be a place of exploration for students, a final place to experience many different things without strict boundaries. In the case of college admissions, the phrase, “you won’t know until you try,” should not be taken lightly.
Grace Beilman // Staff Writer