What it’s like to be an Undeclared Freshman

If you have no idea in what you want to major in, just know that you’re not alone.

“I want to major in…?”

As soon as I started my freshman journey here at UIUC, I didn’t have a clue to what I wanted to major in . Yes, I had some ideas, but I didn’t have a solid, concrete, specific major that I planned to pursue, and that’s okay! Luckily, I was already starting at a good place, which was being a student of the Division of General Studies, that’s made for students like me that still are figuring out what their interests are and future career paths.

GS101: A class to learn about yourself

Since I was enrolled in the Division of General Studies, I had to take a mandatory class this semester called GS101. At first, I was dreading to take the class, because I thought it would be a typical introductory class that wouldn’t be very helpful and that I wouldn’t learn anything. Now, I take it all back and I realize how much it’s helped me navigate my interests and my potential majors that I want to pursue.

For example, GS101 held weekly Zoom meetings with other DGS (undeclared) students that also didn’t know what they wanted to do. So, when I attended these meetings, I learned about other students in my shoes, and, to me, it felt better that I was talking and getting to know these students who were feeling the same way I was: confused and scared. But with every meeting, my instructor reassured us that we have a blank slate, a chance to start over and try to experiment with different classes that we’re interested in, and to see where that takes us. He was right. This semester, I took classes that I was interested in and learned about concepts, ideas, and history that I didn’t even know existed. Along the way, I learned about the classes I liked and not so much liked. It felt like I was trying experiments with myself, and it was (still is) fun to see what makes me want to ask questions and dive in the learning materials and what doesn’t.

Through the GS101 class, I was given resources such as personality tests, career tests, and exercises to figure out my strengths and weaknesses, which helped me as a person and as a student. After putting my results all together, it brought me closer to see what majors would connect well with my personality traits, goals, and interests. After learning about this new information about myself, it helped me to better understand my abilities, habits, and perspective that I could rein in to help me become the best version of myself–as a student, friend, worker, and person.

How being a DGS student has helped me

Overall, I really enjoyed the GS101 class and the opportunity to learn more about myself. The class itself provided many resources, such as information and activities on mentoring/tutoring services, career path questionaries, professional workshops, and so much more that I know I will use for the rest of my college career, as well as my life.

Being a DGS student has helped me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. To me, being an DGS student has given me the opportunity to transition from high school to college in a way that’s helpful, friendly, and most importantly, exciting. It’s brought me to try classes that weren’t available at my high school, or classes that I didn’t imagine I would take. It’s pushed me to be patient and to take the time to understand myself and figure out what I want to pursue day by day. I learned that figuring out what I want to major in is a process that shouldn’t be rushed and that it should be fun, because when else are you going to spend a year at college experimenting with classes and activities?

Besides learning more about myself, I also gained skills, both academically and professionally, that I know will help me as student and in my professional career. It’s definitely been hard, but it’s rewarding to figure out who I am as a person and who I want to be. But with being a DGS student, I feel that each day, I’m one step closer to establishing what I want to pursue in life, what I want to accomplish, and who I want to be.

Taking my time as a DGS student

Although, I now have a solid idea of what I want to major in, I’m still enjoying the fun experiences and experiments I get to have as a student in the Division of General Studies. It’s been an adventurous journey so far as a DGS student, and I’m glad it’s not over yet!


To those of you who are deciding what you want to major in, just know that you don’t have to rush yourself into making a decision. For now continue to enjoy the adventures, research, and experiences that will bring you one step closer to knowing what you want to do in life!

Veronica

Veronica

Class of 2024
Hi everyone! I am currently studying in the Division of General Studies. I am from Niles, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago, and I am an only child. This means that I will be the first and only one in my family to attend UIUC, so I plan to bring you with me along the way! I hope to share my experiences and provide helpful advice and info about student and campus life here at UIUC for prospective students and others.

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