Inside Indecision

Brian Greene

“People think too much about majors” was not the response I expected when I went to speak with professor John-Paul Spiro. Constantly considering various majors has seemed only natural since arriving on campus. For students who have not declared majors and are exploring their academic options, thoughts are always directed in that looming decision. Overcoming the sometimes negative connotation of being undeclared actually can be a powerful tool in self-realization. A truly adept undecalred student can change his or her plans into a map for lasting education.

The dilemma facing undeclared students is that one interest has not established supremacy over others. However, those whose interests are fragmentary can find themselves in a serious situation when core requirements run out and “real life” becomes a consideration. Eventually, the undeclared student has to seek out advice to make a decision regarding his or her major.

Conventional wisdom is too frequently conventional, too infrequently wise. The assumption that not having a career picked out is a problem was shattered by visits with three professors, who used words like “passion” and “personal narrative.” This new wisdom seems to place emphasis on earnest self-examination in finding a major.

Too often, ideas about work and careers muddle perception of actual interests.

“The decision is more about finding your passion and following from that,” philosophy professor Dr. John Immerwahr says.

Talking about undeclared students, Dr. Jack Doody, a philosophy professor, paraphrases Socrates, saying, “They know that they don’t know.”

Pitting an ancient philosopher with these members of the college world actually produces a fruitful comparison and affords new insight into the advantage of being undeclared. For some undeclared students, the reality of limiting their studies to just one subject can seem like a way to discourage their natural multitude of real interests from shaping their lives.

However, when the romanticism of indecision and finding a true passion wears thin, the fact remains that all students attending Villanova need to get a degree.

For undeclared students who do not buy the idea that their majors will magically manifest themselves, there are ways to work around even the most persistent indecision.

Spiro provides some insight, saying that picking a major with few requirements is a useful advisory technique for undeclared students. The appeal of picking this type of major is that it allows a student time to take courses in other areas he or she likes. The student is exposed to an academic path that offers freedom and flexibility.

For many students, finding a specific field seems dreadful, as it can feel like an end to their traditional schooling. Still, majors don’t define people. This idea can be one of the most tantalizing realizations, as it brings a lifetime of self-education into sharper focus.

After all, as Spiro points out, “It’s only a bachelor’s degree.” Any major is really an introduction to life. With that type of disposition, undeclared students can cast their nets wide and find an interest that legitimately appeals to them, regardless of their starting salary after senior year.

Read more on majors and see advice from alumni on page M10.