I have noticed that many people have come upon my blog by asking this question. However, I do not offer any explanation – just the answer my students should provide.
Well, let me explain for all who really wish to know:
You might enroll as a degree or a non-degree student.
If you plan to get a degree ( e.g. a Bachelor of Science in Physics), you need to take some mandatory classes, to collect a certain number of credit hours, etc. Then you enroll in a degree program.
However, your goal may not be to get a degree but just to take a number of classes because you are interested in them. Then you don’t enroll in a degree program. In this case you may not be a full-time student and take the required work-load, but just stray classes.
Of course, you might spend your first year as a non-degree student and then decide to start a degree program. In this case, you write “No” because they ask about the first year only.
This question does not ask you whether you are going to declare a major in the first year. You might enroll in a degree program your first year and not be in a hurry to declare your major during the first year
This is not just my own interpretation but what a friend of mine who works in a US college told me after discussing the question with other faculty and admissions officers.