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Exploring majors

 

 

If you are undecided about your major, you are not alone. About a third of students begin college without having chosen a major, and of those who do begin college with a declared major, 60-70% change it at least once before they graduate. You are encouraged to spend your first few terms, especially if you are a freshman, learning more about yourself and exploring different academic options. One way to do this is by taking a variety of courses that seem interesting to you.

Selecting a major is a process which

  • begins with self-assessment: identifying and analyzing one's personality, interests, skills, and values
  • proceeds to exploration of majors and careers: taking courses in interest areas, researching options for careers
  • concludes with decision-making: what is a "good fit" - declaring a major

Self-assessment

Advising & Career Services offers workshops that help students to begin to understand their skills, interests, and values. Both the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Strong Interest Inventory (SII) are administered by career counselors and are valuable tools in the self-assessment stage. Career counselors can also help you understand the meaning of these tests in selecting a major or career.

Exploration

Taking an introductory course in an academic area that interests you is often one of the best ways to explore a potential major. A list of exploratory/introductory courses has been compiled to assist you in this process. Enrolling in these courses also provides an opportunity to talk with faculty about the particular field of study. If you decide after taking a course that this major is not for you, the course will still apply towards your degree, whether it fulfills a specific requirement (e.g., BA or BS) or as an elective. An academic adviser can help you better understand the applicability of your courses.

A complete list of majors and links to their websites and degree maps is listed on the Undergraduate Programs page.

Decision-Making

There is no "right" major, but there is a major that complements your skills, values, and interests. The best major for you is one that both interests and challenges you. If you are concerned about career fields that are available to you after graduation, realize that most career fields do not require a specific major, although there are exceptions (e.g. accounting, mechanical engineering); there are many fields where the relationship between your major and your career is not as direct. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about the connection between major and careers. If you need help deciding on a major, both academic advisers and career counselors are able to help you.

Academic Advising

If you are exploring majors you should seek academic advising from Advising & Career Services (ACS), an advising center responsible for providing advising to students selecting or changing majors. Call (503) 725-4005 or stop in University Services Building Room 402 to set up an appointment with an ACS adviser.