College: a brand new, exciting, but sometimes scary experience. It can especially be difficult when 20-50% of freshmen enter college with an undecided major, and 75% of students change their majors at least once. This can be incredibly nerve-wracking for undecided students who attend colleges that require the declaration of a degree during orientation.
Fortunately, Harvard is one of the best universities to attend, especially for those who are undecided or who may change majors at some point. Students are unable to declare a concentration until the middle of their second year. Prior to making this choice, students must fulfill eight different categories worth of general education requirements. The eight categories have a wide variety, offering classes that cover practically every subject possible! For students undecided, these courses may provide an eye-opening experience that makes declaring a concentration a simple process.
While the courses that Harvard offers – and there are more than 3,500 – can provide guidance to undecided majors, there is a reason outside of the university itself. Massachusetts offers ample opportunities to help students find their passions and therefore their ideal concentration. These opportunities are gained through experiential learning, which can start for students before they begin schooling at Harvard.
When people first think of Massachusetts, the subject that comes to mind is history – and rightly so! Most may think of the state as the location of the first permanent settlement by English colonizers. Prior to the Pilgrams’ arrival, Massachusetts was inhabited by Native Americans, and was later the location of the Salem Witch Trials. The state played an important role in America’s development, and is home to many historic landmarks as a result.
Beyond Massachusetts’ history, the state is geographically and biologically rich in diversity. As the fifth smallest state, Massachusetts offers estuaries, freshwater, saltwater, bays, mountains, rivers, and glacial tills to explore. Its location makes the state susceptible to sea-level rise and therefore climate change, offering ample opportunities for research. Greenhouse gas emissions in Boston offer urban planners an interesting site to study, and the city’s historic architecture is more than just a tourist attraction.
Famous authors, such as Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Edgar Allen Poe also called Massachusetts home. These historic figures provided influence to the state and the students within it, inspiring future writers. The music scene is also heavily supported, with emphasis on choral music and rock and roll. All these features of the state just barely scratch the surface of how much Massachusetts has to offer.
These characteristics of the state offer plenty of opportunities for students to discover their passions. For this reason, students who homeschool in Massachusetts have a competitive edge when applying to Harvard. Ivy-league universities frequently seek students who demonstrate strength and competency in and outside of the classroom, and Harvard is no exception. Homeschooled students who are now at Harvard attribute their success to the freedom to explore that homeschooling encourages.
When it comes time for students to choose their concentrations in the middle of their second year, the decision will not be difficult. With the combination of Harvard’s brilliant students, the university’s support, and Massachusetts’ diversity, it won’t take long for students to find their passion. And there’s a chance that the homeschoolers may figure it out just a little faster than the rest.