One of the things I love about TU is that, despite being an acclaimed university, there’s not an excessive amount of pressure for new students to declare a major. The absence of that pressure saved me from having to make some difficult decisions as an overstressed and anxious high school senior well before I was ready to do so.
That being said, being an undeclared major sometimes feels like being thrust into the world of higher education without guidance or a purpose.
What I’ve found as an undeclared student, and from talking to other undeclared students, is that we’re often unsure where to start despite having an awareness of our own interests. There’s only so many out-of-context aptitude tests one can take and lists of majors one can peruse before they all start blending together in a blur of insubstantial, inapplicable advice.
Yes, I already know I have an aptitude for English and social sciences and that I like working with people or in the outdoors or whatever results the countless online quizzes churn out at me. Probably could have told you that ahead of time. Doesn’t particularly steer me towards any conclusive life decisions.
What undeclared majors need are resources at their own school, in the context of their university’s resources and connections, that can help steer them towards the major that is best for them. This is why I suggest that TU host a program or major fair to start undeclared students on their way to success.
An excellent example of this sort of program in action is Ohio University’s annual Majors Fair. The fair is not only the one time a year the university’s hundreds of major, minor and certificate programs are represented in one place, but also an opportunity for students to learn about internships, study abroad programs and similar opportunities.
Similarly, Washington University in St. Louis hosts a major fair which is directed specifically at sophomores. I particularly liked this one because it benefits students who need to declare a major before the sophomore year deadline as well as students who might be thinking about changing their major around sophomore or junior year.
A major fair would allow TU students to explore majors that may not have caught their eye on an impersonal digital list of degree programs. They could talk to faculty and current students in each program to learn more about them from a firsthand perspective.
It would allow students to get an idea of what the major programs are like at their own university, in the context of its unique resources, courses and faculty, and subsequently to make better decisions for themselves and for their future studies.
Additionally, I’ve noticed that many universities have advising programs specifically directed toward undecided students. Virginia Commonwealth University’s Discovery Program, for example, features individual and group counseling, workshops and advising sessions.
That’s not to say that TU doesn’t already have a fair amount of services available—the Center for Student Academic Success, the Arts and Sciences AS-1001 classes and the current faculty and major-based advisers are all very adept and qualified to provide students with academic guidance.
I might, however, suggest a supplementary program to the currently available advising resources.
I’m specifically intrigued by the idea of group workshops for undeclared students. One of the most helpful things for me during my first semester as an undeclared major was to discuss my options with people who had a lot of the same doubts and concerns as I did—other undeclared students.
I’d love to see programs at TU help students make well-informed and thoughtful choices during what can be a confusing and stressful time in their lives. A major fair or program for undeclared students would be an ideal opportunity for the university to begin doing so.