Freshmen find choosing a major overwhelming
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 21:09
A key attraction of the university is its endless number of opportunities available to students, specifically, the wide variety of majors offered allows undergraduates a kind of choice that they would not be able to get at a smaller school. At many liberal arts schools, “undecided” majors are popular and often encouraged. However, at large institutions like the university, “most students designate a major field of study, although students may enter as ‘University Studies’ (undeclared) major status,” according to the Office of Academic Enrichment’s website. When there are so many fields of study to explore here, it is surprising to me that so many students declare majors their freshman year.
Attending a university with so many options for classes and majors can seem overwhelming and intimidating, especially to freshmen. Therefore, many may feel pressured to choose a major early on in their college careers to make their options seem less daunting. It is important for freshmen, particularly those with reservations about their majors, to be able to look into all the alternatives before settling.
Many students may choose their majors based on what classes they took in high school. However, classes like biology, chemistry and English allow students to obtain only broad understandings of certain subject areas, with which they are already familiar. Although students will eventually have the opportunity to explore other subjects, they are bound by breadth requirements once they choose a major.
Students’ schedules can then fill up quickly, leaving them little room to take other classes. When choosing a major, students may be unaware of the more specific focuses that the university offers, such as management information systems or art conservation, and it could be difficult to switch into them later. It’s clear that many freshmen do know what they want to study, but it is important that those who are unsure feel that they have options. Students should feel encouraged to major in “University Studies,” which can only benefit students because it forces them to look more into what this college has to offer.
Although switching majors is definitely an option, it seems time-consuming and overwhelming. If a student comes into the university as undeclared, they can have time to determine their interests through taking a variety of classes, hopefully enabling them to then choose a major about which they are truly passionate. Otherwise, if a student quickly chooses a major freshman year before exploring other subjects, he or she may end up overloading on classes to satisfy requirements for a new major.
One way this can happen is through more publicity of the university studies major. For example, incoming freshmen could be required to take the detailed quizzes the Office of Academic Enrichment offers online that guide students in figuring out where their interests lie. At their new student orientations students, regardless of their majors, could be presented with information about university studies. Because choosing a major at such a large institution can seem daunting, it is valuable for students to feel motivated to explore all their options.
The university studies page on the university website states, “As a [university studies] student, you are encouraged to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that will assist you in uncovering your interests, and ultimately determining your major.” By taking classes in many different disciplines, university studies students will be able to develop passions for subjects, much like those students who determine their majors when they apply. It is important for undergraduates to be interested in their fields of study, since the classes they take will guide them toward careers in those areas.
It is clear that some students know from a young age what they want to do with their lives, but at the same time, many others do not. Both mindsets are acceptable. Either way, students will be more successful in the future if they take the time to figure out their interests, rather than taking a guess and only half-heartedly enjoying their college academic experiences.
Abigail Goldring is the assistant news editor for The Review. Her viewpoints do not necessarily represent those of the Review staff. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.