College sets the stage for employment, pressing students to choose the right education for their career hopes. Although it’s an easy prospect for students with clear work goals in mind, others are slow committing to an academic major. While picking a program early in your college career has advantages, being undeclared might not be so bad.

Career Flexibility

College degree programs usually require candidates to complete general education requirements, along with coursework related to each major. That means students from many different majors pass through the same basic classes on their way to degrees. Why not get some of these courses out of the way as an undeclared degree candidate?

Staying undeclared while you complete basic coursework keeps your options open. A lot can happen in a year or two, as you chip away at core classes. A flexible approach enables you to follow employment trends, declaring your course of study when the time is right. Future career opportunities and even new degree programs might be more appealing than those available today. Putting off a commitment can save you the trouble of changing your major later.

Personal Growth

Declaring a major is a meaningful personal milestone, demonstrating a professional commitment to your chosen field. Although it can be undone, locking down a course of study shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like marrying for the wrong reasons, declaring your major too soon can create complications.

What if your values change? What if your college experience steers you in a new direction? Will your credentials be in demand upon graduation, or is your chosen profession in decline? Remaining undeclared gives you time to answer these and other important questions, ensuring your education decisions reflect your personal and professional goals.

Time and Money

Declaring early works for many students who are confident in their career plans. If your dream is immovable, committing to an academic major can help keep you focused during school. And since competitive programs may have more interest than available spots, pledging to a program is often the best way to gain access to degree courses. If you’re uncertain about your career direction, however, declaring a major too soon can cost you time and money.

Tuition is expensive, so you want every credit you earn applied to your major. Setting out in one direction only to double back and change your major can leave you with unused credits. For every class you complete that doesn’t apply to your degree program, you’ll spend another semester replacing it with one that does. Not only does the approach set you back financially, but you’ll also spend more time in school earning your degree.

Broad Base

You can’t get a degree without declaring a major, so you shouldn’t lose sight of the endgame. In the meantime, liberal arts studies provide a broad base to draw from as your educational plans firm up. Even if you don’t nail down a specific major, narrow your focus as soon as possible so your coursework stays relevant. Use the opportunity to build a strong GPA, bringing good grades with you when formally declaring your major.

Picking a major can help keep you on track during college, but being undeclared also has advantages. Use the flexible approach to find your true calling, without wasting time and money.

College poses plenty of legitimate challenges, so the last thing you need is a senseless setback during school. Unfortunately, scammers may have you in their sights, preying on your search for any valuable internship experience.

Valuable Positions

As graduation nears, paid and unpaid internships furnish on-the-job experience and networking opportunities within your field. These positions enable you to work alongside established professionals, learning practical skills in genuine employment settings. Though specific job duties vary, most student work opportunities provide hands-on exposure tied to your major. Working as an intern can also lead to full-time employment upon graduation. Employers commonly use their internship programs to develop top talent, extending regular work offers to their most qualified interns.

Authentic internships offer the work experience you can’t simulate in the classroom, but not all the opportunities are real. Various internship scams lure students trying to build professional skills and establish industry contacts prior to graduation. Unfortunately, they only disappoint when the cons are exposed. The false positions can interfere with your degree and employment prospects, so it is important to protect yourself from these bogus offers.

Signs of a Scam

Criminals go to great lengths disguising internship scams, giving unsuspecting students every possible reason to believe they’re above-board. As you compare opportunities, look for these sure signs of an internship scam:

It sounds too good to be true. Internships are learning opportunities that sometimes offer compensation. Though some high-profile positions provide payments rivaling a regular salary, most intern pay is modest. Remember, you are there to learn, observe, and put your best foot forward. Career compensation comes later. Maintaining realistic expectations can help protect you from scams. When an internship offer promises power, prestige, and/or great wealth, you’ve likely stumbled upon a scam, which won’t help advance your career.

Landing the position calls for an investment. The best internships are highly competitive, reserved for strong academic achievers and other well-qualified candidates. Your grades, interview responses, extracurricular participation, and other factors may be used to evaluate eligibility. However, legitimate internship sponsors will not ask for money. Sometimes disguised as application charges, offers demanding deposits or fees are scams. Similarly, programs requiring would-be interns to buy software or other items do not hold water. Rather than opening doors to employment experience, payments and investments vanish, along with the scammers and their false internship offers.

Other Things To Look Out For

The offer doesn’t make sense. Misdirection helps magicians carry-off their best tricks, diverting viewers’ attention with a flurry of unrelated activity. In much the same way, scammers put forth impossibly complex internship offers, hoping you’ll fall for the ruse, without sweating the details. True internship offers are straightforward and transparent, clearly outlining expectations, compensation, duration, and other important aspects of each job. If the addresses, contact information and other internship details can’t be verified, it’s a clear sign of a scam.

You can work from home. The spirit of this type of job involves interaction and hands-on learning. If you’re recruited to work from home, the internship might not be legitimate. Before making commitments, investigate the sponsor and whenever possible, discuss the experience with past interns from the organization.

College internships bridge the gap between classroom learning and permanent employment. To make the most of these valuable experiences look for telltale warning signs and steer clear of internship scams.