5 Best Colleges for Undecided Students

By Phill Powell

In a teen’s perfect world, you would already know exactly what you want to do with you life, and probably be college-bound and well on your way to achieving your life goals.

Still wondering what career or education to pursue? A liberal arts education might make sense.

Unfortunately, for lots of teens, they’re still trying to make the epic decision about what college to attend or what career path to follow. Thankfully, students do have a starting place: liberal arts.

Through a liberal arts education, students are exposed to numerous academic subjects (e.g. humanities, arts, sciences and social sciences). Through those subjects, a student might discover a passion that excites their interest and leads them onto a career.

Students typically spend two years satisfying liberal arts course requirements before moving on to two more years of dedicated coursework in their declared major. Just as certain colleges are more technically oriented, some liberal arts colleges are more welcoming of students who haven’t decided on a major. We found these to be the five best colleges for undecided students:

Williams College

Annual Tuition: $48,310
Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts
Enrollment: 2,077
In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked Williams as the nation’s number one liberal arts college.

Why It’s Great: Williams is a popular choice with undecideds due to its wide selection of majors (36 of them) from humanities, sciences and social sciences. Combine that with a small enrollment and a classroom experience that stresses participation by all students, and you have Williams College – the perfect place for kids who aren’t sure yet what they want to do.

Pomona College

Annual Tuition: $45,832
Location: Claremont, California
Enrollment: 1,612
Pomona College undergrads enjoy a thriving social calendar that exposes them to various interests, such as this nighttime event at the school’s art museum.

Why It’s Great: Pomona College has traditionally kept a low profile, but recently that’s been changing. In 2015, Forbes ranked Pomona the best undergrad college or university in the U.S., and Pomona College now has the largest endowment of any liberal arts college in the nation. Part of this school’s wealth of possibilities for undecideds is its close proximity to Los Angeles, which is just 35 miles away.

Harvard University

Annual Tuition: $60,659
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Enrollment: 6,700 (undergrad)
Students who graduate Harvard with a liberal arts degree average $46,000 in starting salary.

Why It’s Great: Harvard is a liberal arts paradise, and its president thinks liberal arts go hand in hand with STEM learning. Drew Gilpin Faust recently wrote that the goal of the liberal arts at Harvard University is, “to create citizens equipped with habits of mind and analytic capacities to shape human experience within the context of the natural realities and technological forces – and opportunities – we confront.” (Maybe your teen should visit one of the best tech camps at Harvard…)

Carleton College

Annual Tuition: $47,736
Location: Northfield, Minnesota
Enrollment: 2,045
Carleton College is a private liberal arts college in the historic town of Northfield, Minnesota.

Why It’s Great: At Carleton, it’s not just the 35 majors that makes the school a good fit for undecided students. It’s also the extracurricular opportunities, representing some 170 organizations. To earn a degree, Carleton College students have to take liberal-arts-themed courses, including an argument & inquiry seminar and a writing course, as well as classes in international studies, natural science and social inquiry. The goal: a well-rounded education.

Stanford University

Annual Tuition: $59,836 (Stanfords new Financial Aid program can drastically reduce costs)
Location: Stanford, California
Enrollment: 6,980 (undergrad)
It’s not easy getting in, but having a Stanford degree can greatly impact your future success.

Why It’s Great: Although the “Harvard of the 21st Century” is known for its rigorous standards, undergraduate students experience more academic freedom at Stanford University, especially after completing General Education requirements that emphasize traditional liberal arts strengths (like “Ways of Thinking” and “Writing & Rhetoric”).

Other Options
There’s another way for teens to “test drive” their interest in creative tech subjects – and explore a prestigious college campus: Spend a week or two at a Digital Media Academy tech camp, exploring cutting-edge subjects like app development, game design, filmmaking and much more.

At DMA locations like its Stanford summer camps, kids and teens are guided by industry pros and expert instructors who know how to effectively communicate tech concepts. It can be the first step toward a richly rewarding career.