Students make major decisions

By Eric Gordon

The deadline across most colleges at the University for changing majors is at the end of five semesters, but with more than 150 undergraduate and 100 graduate programs to choose from, some students at the University find choosing an occupation for the rest of their life too daunting a task.

Gordon Dawson Tibbits, now a senior in English, has changed his major three times. Entering the University, Tibbits planned to major in nuclear engineering.

“I thought about changing my major freshman year,” Tibbits said. “I only took about one or two nuclear engineering classes before switching majors.”

Tibbits spent his sophomore and junior year as a psychology major and would briefly switch to sociology, after speaking with an adviser.

“It seems to get harder to get to the decision of what you want to do as quickly as you need,” Tibbits said. “As an English major, I hope to teach or do something with writing.”

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When he told his parents about the switch, they both had some concerns, but feels he made the right decision.

Taking advantage of campus resources can help not only incoming freshmen or people curious about changing their major, but also help all students realize their interests and skill sets.

“Our program works to grow beyond a classic advising style,” said Julian Parrott, assistant provost and director of new student advising for the Division of General Studies. “We hope to build an extensive personal relationship with students.”

The advisers in the Division of General Studies try to work primarily with incoming students up to their fourth and fifth semesters.

“‘What are the abilities they possess and how do we frame them?’ is a lofty task for both the adviser and the freshman,” Parrott said.

Knowing what you want to major in may help you graduate on time, but Parrott cautions students in making such a decision too quickly.

“Students should look beyond requirements and explore some of their major interests as well.” Parrott said. “Exploring multiple majors is important to advising and students.”

There is a landscape of majors and careers, which can also be enriched by extracurricular or cocurricular activities, he added.

“Classes that develop critical and creative thinking will make for a well-rounded, well-educated student,” Parrott said.

Margaret Schrock is the assistant director of the Career Center on campus and had advice for both new and veteran students.

The center’s “Finding a Major that Fits” workshop is a place to start for people confused or overwhelmed by choosing a major, Schrock said. Schrock said she hopes that people don’t wait too long, or the decision is made under pressure. She thinks there is also one misconception about choosing majors.

“Students think that their major is going to define what they do after they graduate,” Schrock said.

Schrock also said the online EPICS Program (Exploring Pathways in Career Success) may be helpful for interested students.