Try to consider all sides of this issue.

A student told me recently that he had decided where he was going to college, and that it was a school where he didn’t have to choose a major until his junior year. He viewed this as a good thing because he would have longer to decide what he wanted to do. But what if we look at this issue from all of the other perspectives?

If you look at it from the school’s perspective, they appear to be making it easier for students because they don’t have to choose a major before they show up on campus. But since colleges really aren’t being held accountable for their graduation rates, they don’t care how long it takes students to graduate. If a student stays longer, the school collects more money. If a student doesn’t choose a major until their junior year, and then changes their mind, how likely is it that the student will graduate on time? Delaying this decision doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a better decision, but it certainly might lead to additional college costs.

And what about the perspective of your future potential employers? If you were an employer, would you want to recruit at a school where the students only took classes in their major for two years, or schools where they started classes for that major in the freshman or sophomore year? You might make the argument that future employers will want more well-rounded students, and you might be right. But if you really want to know what the most sought-after employers think about different college programs, ask them which campuses they recruit from, and why.

I think what is more important than WHEN a student chooses a major is HOW they choose one. I have yet to find a college that uses reliable and valid assessment instruments to help students make wise decisions when choosing a major. So it really is left entirely up to the student (and their family) to gather the best information they can before they choose a major. Remember, when it comes to your future, you have much more skin in the game than the college or university does, so don’t assume what works best for them (in recruiting prospective students) works best for you.