Student lying down on the steps at Kimmel.

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College Applications? Yeah, They’re Scary.

My biggest stressor during the college application process was always the tiny box on the Common Application that indicates ‘Program of Interest.’ When I clicked on that daunting box, an endless list of possible programs would make me rethink everything. Was I ready to choose an area of study that would define my four years at college? Did I have a set idea of what that program would be? Was I even ready for college? To be honest, those questions haunted me throughout my entire senior year and even trickled into my college life. But in the end, those questions actually helped me arrive where I am today.

Farm Boy Meets NYC

I come from a small farming town in upstate New York, where there’s not much to do except think about the future. I spent my time in high school immersing myself within my science classes and performing in all of my high school’s musicals. On the weekends, I worked on my family owned apple orchard. Due to my diverse interests, it was really difficult for me to solidify a program of interest or an area of study. I decided that applying undecided was my best option. When applying to NYU, I illustrated my passions for cultural studies and the arts while emphasizing that these interests were something I could explore simultaneously at the University. 

In Case You Were Wondering—Yes, I Rode Horses, and Yes, I Can Drive a Tractor
The author on their first day of class for fall 2019.
Explore Your Options

On my first day of classes at NYU, I realized that I had stacked my schedule with core requirements without any room for exploration. Late at night, while distressingly searching for classes over a tub of ice cream, I decided to enroll in Media and Identity within the Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC) department. The class explored multiple topics centered on the intersection of identity structures and media. The class stimulated me intellectually, opening my eyes to a diverse and expansive area of study while galvanizing my interest in media, culture, and communication studies.


Sunset at Astor Place.
Internal Transfer. Yup, That's Me.

Throughout my first two years at NYU, I developed a love for the MCC department, and ended up internally transferring into Steinhardt to join the program. Although the decision was easy to make, the road getting there came with many twists and turns. But for me, some of the joys of being undecided were those twists and turns. They pushed me to learn more about myself while taking advantage of as many opportunities as I could. 

Washington Square Park on a sunny day.
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Be Free. Be Clueless.

Being undecided is complicated at times. It can be a tumultuous time, causing a lot of stress just over the fact that you have no idea what you’re pursuing. But at the same time, it’s an amazing period in the undergraduate experience where you don’t need to feel the pressure of knowing exactly who you are and what you want to do. In a sense you can feel limitless. So to all the undecided students… Explore. Be free. Be clueless, and lean into the discomfort of not knowing a single thing.

Zachary is currently a Senior in the Steinhardt school studying Media, Culture, & Communication. He comes from a farming background and grew up working on his family owned apple orchard in southern New York – YEE HAW! Zachary spent his first two years at NYU as an Undecided student in the College of Arts and Science, before discovering his passion for representation within media and content creation. He has a strong interest in pop-culture and has interned at PAPER Magazine, writing for their ‘Stan Stories’ series about the culture of fandoms as well as pieces on numerous pop-culture updates. He has also worked in Marketing for Private Health Care Practice and Social Media for his family’s orchard and distillery businesses.