One of the secrets not often mentioned is that selecting a college major is a two-way street. Students choose a major based on personal interests, values and skills; preconceptions of the career they want after graduation; or sometimes because of what their family envisions (even if it is not the student’s top choice). Similarly, academic departments search for majors who have demonstrated success in their courses, and whose interests intersect with the talents of their faculty. Departments are also constrained to admitting only the number of students they can accommodate in the classroom. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that students are unable to declare the major of their choice.
For some, facing this obstacle can feel devastating. They may feel lost about where to go from here. They may even feel like giving up on college altogether. At the University Advising Center, we try to help students see the opportunities that still abound for students who are unable to declare their first-choice major. We know that there can be multiple paths for finding a major and a career that best fit you, and are here to help you navigate a new path.
Some of the ways your advisor can assist you include:
- Helping you make sure you are fulfilling the general education requirements needed for graduation, regardless of which major you ultimately choose.
- Identifying alternate majors that may lead to similar career paths
- Showing you majors that draw on similar courses or pre-requisites
- Guiding you towards campus resources (including the Career Center, the Counseling Center, and faculty members) that may help you discover the major that is the best fit for you AND the department
- Answering your questions about policies and procedures for declaring a major, as well as concerns about suspension/probation if that applies to you
- Talking with you about how to share the news with family and friends that you are changing your major
Finding a major that is right for you does not have to be a game of trial and error. Students must actively engage with their academic advisors, career advisors, and faculty in finding alternate major and career paths.