For Those Sweating Major Choice

A common theme that I have heard from some of the freshmen I meet is “I have no idea what I want to major in and I am freaking out about it.”  They feel pressure that they should know (but don’t), they are dreading you asking what they want to major in, and knowing that they will come home for the summer soon is heightening that anxiety.  So a few thoughts on this.

Don’t ask, don’t tell.  By this I mean, don’t ask your Deac and put him or her on the spot.  Instead, you can ask things like ‘which of your classes have you liked the most?’ and ask your Deac to elaborate on what made that good.  Don’t suggest majors you think your son/daughter might like.  Maybe turn that around a little and say ‘what have you ruled out? as in ‘no way would I ever consider a major in X!’

Frequently I find that students gravitate to a specific Division in our curriculum:

Humanities (history, religion, philosophy)

Literature (english, classics, foreign literature in translation.)

Arts (music, theatre, dance, art)

Social Sciences (anthropology, communication, education, economics, politics and international affairs, psychology, sociology)

Math and Natural Sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer science)

So even if they can narrow down to a Division they like (or one they can eliminate) that gets them a step closer.

I always encourage students to look at the Undergraduate Bulletin for potential majors to see what the specific requirements are for that major. Read course descriptions of required classes and see if they could see themselves taking those classes.  BUT, understand that there is likely no major that will have 100% of what a student likes, and so it might require a class in X or Y that must be slogged through.  (It happened to me).

Freshmen can sample courses in potential departments this fall or next spring.  By then, they will most likely have a good sense of what appeals to them.  There are also some great ‘explore a major‘ resources on the OPCD website they can review this summer.

Important note: let your kids be the ones to explore the Undergraduate Bulletin and the OPCD website – don’t help them with it.  They need to own this research independently 🙂

Just a few thoughts for those of you getting ready to welcome ’19s back home.

— by Betsy Chapman






Categories: academicscampus life


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