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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Undeclared students face major pressures

Whether it’s because there are too many options or not enough, undeclared majors are undeclared for many reasons.

According to statistics from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support, 3,023 undergraduate students, almost 10 percent, have yet to declare a major.

“We don’t have that magic wand,” explained Leticia Soto-Delgadillo, the director of the Center for Exploratory Students at the UA. The center aims to help students identify their specific interests and skills to make informed decisions about choosing or switching majors.

Soto-Delgadillo said there are undeclared majors in every college, and many of them don’t choose a major right away because they have too many ideas about what they want to do when they graduate, or because they have no idea. The majority of undeclared majors are freshmen and sophomores, she said.

“There’s undecidedness across the board,” Soto-Delgadillo said.

Other students are undeclared because they come to the UA without considering that it’s a research-intensive school, said Russel Potter, an advising specialist at the Center for Exploratory Students. He said many of the UA’s programs are aimed at research science, engineering or are other “high-focus” programs, and that many students attend the university because it’s local and cheaper than other schools they couldn’t get into. In addition, he said some students attend the UA simply because it’s the natural thing to do after graduating high school.

“This last group of students comes because they are supposed to, but doesn’t have any idea what they are here for, what they want to do and how this connects to life after high school,” he said.

UA policy states that a major must be declared by the time a student has completed 60 units. The policy helps some students explore their options in a timely manner, while it overwhelms others.

“I feel like I’m in a rush,” said Brittnay Levin, an undeclared freshman. “Everyone knows what they want to do, except for me.”

Levin said she came to the university undeclared because she was unsure about what career path to take. As a second semester freshman, however, she said she is leaning towards studying retailing and consumer sciences or family studies and human development because those are the majors that interest her most.

The biggest challenge about being undeclared, Potter said, is that many “in-demand” majors require a decision earlier than some students are ready. Some of these majors include engineering, business, retail, many sciences and anything in the arts, he said, and for students paying “huge tuition,” this can be an issue.

Despite the fact that being undeclared can be stressful, many advisors note that choosing a major does not harness students into specific careers.

“Most bachelor’s degrees aren’t tied to careers, including business,” Potter said. “So it’s not a marriage to field that you’re stuck with.”

Soto-Delgadillo said advisors and programs can help undeclared majors make an educated decision about what major to declare. Some of these programs are “major exploration” services, which help pinpoint student’s interests to fields of study and Pizza with a Professional, which connects students to a panel of professionals who answer questions and provide information regarding career choices.

“They (undeclared students) are a fun population to work with,” she said. “We (the center) walk them through the process of declaring a major.”

_—Brenna Goth contributed reporting to this story. _

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