Today’s high school students are under an untenable amount of pressure.

They’re expected to get good grades, excel in sports, manage multiple extracurricular activities and — on top of all that — know what they want to do with the rest of their lives before even applying to college. But entering college without a declared major doesn’t mean you’re behind the curve —quite the opposite, in fact.

“It’s important to know that being undecided does not necessarily mean being adrift.”

Jessica Bane Robert, Clark University

“It’s important to know that being undecided does not necessarily mean being adrift,” says Jessica Bane Robert, assistant director of the Writing Center and Writing Program and an adviser at the Liberal Education and Effective Practice Center at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Robert teaches a popular Mindful Choices seminar that specifically helps undeclared students navigate the college experience. “A symptom of our distracted, media-driven times,” she says, “is that we spend fewer moments recognizing who we are, what we’re doing and where we want to go.”

Taking a breath — and a breadth of classes — can help students reach a better understanding of what they want to do while ultimately making them well-rounded individuals and better job applicants down the road. Many teens enter college thinking they know what they want to do but, whether they’ve declared a major or not, end up shifting interests once they are exposed to the wide scope of subjects available.

According to Ross Hawkins, assistant director of the Academic Advisement Center at Missouri State, this is quite common. “There is research that shows when a student begins as an undeclared major, they are twice as likely to stick with [their eventual] major than those who begin college with a declared major,” he says, pointing to a Brigham Young University study.

This was certainly true for Stephanie Drahan. If she’d listened to the prevailing wisdom, she would have started Skidmore College as a psychology major. But it’s a good thing she remained undeclared — and open-minded. Psych 101 was great but so were her introductions to government, religion, culture and sociology. By exploring the vast array of subjects the school had to offer, Drahan was exposed to new ideas and disciplines that had not even occurred to the Connecticut teenager.

After taking a range of courses, she discovered women’s studies, which she says “was not even on my radar coming into college.” She took her first women’s studies class in part to fulfill a requirement and says that, looking back, “I would not be who I am without that course — it really did change my life.” She declared her major in women’s studies as a sophomore and is now an online account executive at an integrated direct marketing firm with a feminist slant, having already worked for various female-focused nonprofits.

“Going into college with an open mind indicates a person who is mature… and who isn’t afraid of walking into a whole new world with a few unknowns.”

Dr. Michele Ramsey, Penn State Berks

While taking time to decide on a major may seem unwise, it can actually be a sign of maturity, says Dr. Michele Ramsey, associate professor of communications and women’s studies at Penn State Berks. Having advised students for 25 years she says “I’d argue that going into college with an open mind indicates a person who is mature, aware of the variety of options they may need to learn about and who isn’t afraid of walking into a whole new world with a few unknowns.”

Starting out undeclared can help, not hinder, your job prospects. Ramsey notes, “Employers need workers who are flexible and broad thinkers. They need workers who will make the best decisions, not the easiest ones.”

Jill Hanson, now a middle school English department chair in Los Angeles, has found this to be true. She initially thought she wanted to be a classics major, then declared as an English major and ultimately landed on a double major in English and classics after studying abroad in Greece. She explored a number of disciplines along the way, and she reflects that they have only enriched her career. “I never would have taken neuroscience,” she says, “if I had focused only on fulfilling my English major requirements. Now I use a lot of what I learned about the brain in my teaching.”

So think twice before listening to naysayers who argue that starting college without a major is detrimental. The experts agree — “undeclared” is just another way of saying “open-minded.” And in today’s ever-evolving job marketplace, flexibility and a breadth of knowledge can only help.