What’s Next for VHS ‘23: Undecided Major At Princeton

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Before applying for college, it is common for students to wonder if pursuing higher education is the right next step for them, as opposed to going to trade school or jumping right into a career. This was what Nolani Lloyd asked herself at the beginning of her senior year.

Lloyd was initially unsure whether she wanted to attend college because of the cost of tuition and the need to choose a major that she wasn’t ready to declare. She started researching different universities and discovered that some schools have “no-loan” policies, meaning the university would cover 100% of a student’s demonstrated need. Typically, schools with this policy are highly competitive ones such as Brown University or Johns Hopkins University. With this in mind, Lloyd applied–mostly to colleges with the no-loan policy–and hoped for the best.

When she began to receive admission decisions, Lloyd was shocked and excited to learn that she had been admitted to many highly selective schools, including Princeton University and Dartmouth University. But this news brought on a new set of concerns: how would she decide on where to attend? To make that choice, Lloyd looked for schools with ample resources that would support her own developing identity.

At Verona High School, Lloyd has been an active member of many clubs and organizations such as Spotlight Players and Marine Bio. One club in particular that is close to Lloyd’s heart is Black in Verona. Lloyd has helped to trailblaze this club, which had started in her sophomore year, and she became the vice president as a junior and president her senior year. “The club’s purpose was to create a safe space for black students to come together and talk about current issues,” she says. Lloyd is striving to ensure that Black in Verona continues after she graduates and is looking forward to joining other clubs in college with similar values and goals to Black in Verona.

Another club Lloyd helped to start is the VHS Book Club in her junior year. In this club, members get to choose a book for the month and discuss what they are reading in monthly meetings. Lloyd has always had a love for reading and writing, and has nurtured this love in school by taking AP Language and Composition and both SUPA courses offered at VHS. A SUPA course is a single-semester college-level English course offered through Syracuse University. She knows that she wants to take creative writing courses in the future and possibly join a book club in college.

After carefully considering her options and where she thought she would succeed the most, Lloyd chose to become a student at Princeton University. Lloyd is not sure yet what she wants to major in but knows she is bound to pursue something in the arts. “I was concerned about whether they would herd me into a major as soon as I stepped foot on campus,” Lloyd says, “I wanted to make sure I had the freedom to explore all my interests”. For a student like Lloyd with a vast amount of interests, it was a priority to choose a university that would support her in discovering what career she would like to pursue.

Choosing an undecided major is not a new phenomenon, but it is still not widespread. Many universities, including Princeton, are now requiring that students abstain from officially selecting a major until the end of their freshmen year. This decision is to allow students to experiment with different passions and interests. As a result, the number of students who switch their majors has decreased.

For the VHS seniors who will be incoming freshmen for the 2023-2024 school year, this new reality could allow them to feel less pressure to choose a major and explore what truly interests them. It is unrealistic to expect every student to know what they want to pursue at the age of 18. “By the time I get to my sophomore year in college, I’ll be a different person,” Lloyd says.
For Nolani Lloyd, having the opportunity to experiment with her interests was one of the appeals of Princeton and was one of the reasons she felt she would belong on campus. She looks forward to finding her path and experimenting with her different interests in the process.

“What’s Next” is a series of profiles about what members of each Verona High School class do after graduation. MyVeronaNJ has been publishing the series since 2010 and you can read all of them here.

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