Photos by Micah Lambert
Freshman Michaela Wall is a ‘Pepperdine Legacy.’ Three generations of her family, reaching all the way back to her grandparents, have attended Pepperdine. Needless to say, she felt a unique mix of excitement and pressure when she too decided to attend. In particular, she felt pressure to declare a major before beginning Pepperdine.
She initially thought she would study Nutrition or Sports Medicine, given her heavy involvement in her high school Track and Field and Cross Country teams. But after many conversations and much reflection, Michaela ultimately decided to enter undeclared and see where life took her.
“I’m super glad I went into my freshman year undeclared,” Wall said. “Not being tied down to a specific subject has made me more open to everything I’m learning in my GE classes right now. I’m not worried about choosing a major yet, because one subject may not necessarily be a perfect fit for me. Heck, I changed what I wanted to do three times over the summer before freshman year. I put so much unnecessary pressure on myself to figure out my life. What’s the rush? I’m still just exploring.”
Michaela plans to study abroad in Buenos Aires next year, where she hopes to learn more about her interests and passions.
“I am the first person in my family not to go to Heidelberg. I think BA will reveal things about myself I had no idea were there! I am confident it’s right where I’m supposed to be, even if it’s not what others expected of me,” Wall said. “I also know there’s no one ‘right’ major or career out there for me. I’m a proud undeclared because it means I have options.”
Michaela believes there are countless benefits to declaring a major later in one’s college career. “Even if you don’t discover exactly what you do like, it can be equally helpful to understand what you definitely don’t like,” she said.
Acclimating to college level courses and workload freshman year can be tough enough on its own without the added stress of maintaining a specific major GPA.
“Being undeclared first semester freshman year helps you ease into college course load,” Wall continued. “Then you can reassess. The classes I’m in now have taught me so much already. My first-year seminar, Interpersonal Relationships and Communication with Professor Scott-Lowe, has taught me so much about conflict, interactions and communication styles. I find the material practical and useful every day. Now I am open to majoring in Interpersonal Communication and am taking more communication classes next semester.”
Looking back, Michaela would advise incoming freshmen to take it slow and explore their options. As comforting as it may seem to be able to definitively tell family and friends what you plan to study, it’s not always the smartest move in the end.
“If you’re interested in a subject but aren’t sure, just take a class in it but don’t declare,” Wall advises. “If it’s what you decide you want to pursue, talk to advisors and people who know you well. Get their advice, but whatever you do, don’t panic declare. And don’t be ashamed of being undeclared. It doesn’t mean you don’t have your life together, it means you are being intentional with the classes you are taking so you don’t change your mind later and waste time. I’m so glad I looked at Pepperdine as a whole, not based on a specific program. It’s just as much about the overall experience as it is about the major listed on your final diploma.”
Although Michaela’s family has a long history with Pepperdine, she is proud to create her own unique experience and forge a new path. Being undeclared has taught her more than any major class ever could.
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