A Fresh View: Help, I’m “Undecided”!

Hey! I’m Nicole Fleming and I’m a blogger for A Fresh View. I’m here to share with you some of my experiences as a first-year student, the ups and downs of my transition to college, and why Brown is the best place to be a freshman!

“Undecided.” One of my most-used words in high school. My easy-way-out answer to every question that sounded something like, “What are you going to study in college?” “What kind of career path do you hope to take?” From my point of view, these casual conversational questions only highlighted the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my college experience, my future career, or, let’s face it, my LIFE (*low-key freakout*). Coming into Brown, I, as one of the small percentage of applicants who checked the “undecided” box in the list of intended concentrations, was pretty nervous about picking a field of focus. And, even worse, I was worried that I would be the only one with this issue. What if everyone else had their life figured out while I wandered among subject areas, hoping to narrow down my interests into a real concentration?

After only a few days on campus, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. To start with, the idea that everyone would have their life figured out was completely wrong. Because Brown is a selective university, everyone here is very driven and determined to succeed. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that everyone has their exact course and career path mapped out. I was surprised to find that, although everyone here has lots of interests, few people are completely set on a concentration, and even fewer know exactly what they want to do with their life beyond college.

But, the fact that there are a lot of at least somewhat “undecided” freshmen doesn’t mean that the University lets us wander aimlessly for four years. Through its open curriculum, Brown gave me a chance, even as a freshman, to take classes in a variety of departments. Throughout the year, I’ve been able to “test” each of my potential interests by taking college-level courses in them. I quickly figured out that college subjects are very different from high school subjects that are labeled in the same way (like high-school-style history courses are completely different from history classes at the college level). I love that Brown gave me the chance to explore lots of different subject fields so that I can figure out what fields will interest me in the long run.

It’s crazy for me to think that I came into Brown completely undecided, but, after just a couple semesters of classes, I feel like I could declare a concentration right now. However, there’s no need to worry if you don’t get a concentration figured out in the first year – Brown students don’t officially declare their concentration(s) until the second semester of sophomore year.

So if you’re like how I was in high school (aka a huge mess about what my future concentration should be), no need to panic! Brown makes it easy on “undecided” students. And if you’re lucky enough to know what you want to study, Brown will give you the opportunity to jump right in to classes in your field – and take a few that you might be unsure about, because you never know what might spark a surprising interest. In short, Brown is great for all students – even if that scary word “undecided” is a part of common part of their vocabulary.

I would love to chat if you have questions or just want to talk about Brown! Please email me at nicole_fleming@brown.edu.

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