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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Guess and check your way to a major

    Choosing a major can be a tricky endeavor that requires a great deal of planning, especially if you are a person with a variety of interests. If you can’t decide by the time fall rolls around, don’t fret. In fact, you are probably in the majority.

    University College’s “”undeclared”” major is popular because it is the fallback option. Only a select few have known since they were 10 what they would be doing the rest of their lives. The rest of us have to find out the old-fashioned way: guess and check.

    Here are a few “”ins and outs,”” as they say, for finding the right major as painlessly as possible:

    1. Know if you will be a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts – Sometimes they are counterintuitive (e.g. some of Eller College of Management’s degrees are Bachelor of Arts degrees and some are Bachelor of Science degrees), and there is nothing like finding out you are not only changing majors, but also degrees. Some requirements for the Bachelor of Science are different for the Bachelor of Arts, such as math and language requirements. It is important to know if you will need two extra semesters of French to graduate.

    2. Have a contingency plan B – Even if you are positive that you will major in one thing, don’t assume you will stay there. Choose something else you are interested in and declare it as a minor. Some programs restrict classes only to majors and minors; others require hand-registration which favors majors and minors. Either way, declaring a minor in a subject that is a potential major will help you get the classes you need before you are halfway through your junior year.

    3. Know if a potential major requires a “”change your major”” workshop – Political science, journalism, nursing, media arts and psychology all require attendance at a change of major workshop. The repetition is annoying (the same information can usually be found online), but these necessary evils are usually only offered once a month. So, if you are interested, get in ASAP so you at least have that out of the way if you decide later on to declare in that major.

    4. Get your general education classes out of the way early – Advisers will tell you to spread them out through your four years. Don’t. If you are unsure of your major, pick several to do your first year. Filling up with math and science because you think you want to be a science major can hurt you when you decide to be a studio art major later on. In the end, general education classes can really help you solidify your major choice.

    5. Utilize Student Link – Print out (or at least look at) “”what-if”” SAPRs and talk to an adviser about potential majors. Know what your classes will count for; find out if AP/IB or dual-enrollment credit will count towards that major. This will save you time and energy later.

    6. Focus on your strengths – If you enjoy science, don’t force a violin performance major. Not only could it ruin the eardrums of your roommate, but it will also probably prove disastrous and you will end up changing later anyway. Stick to what you are good at; take a class or two as a trial run. If you like it, keep going with it. If not, find something else that interests you. This can be where the general education classes in number three come in handy!

    Finding a major is difficult. There is a reason that the average student changes majors six times. The major you begin with may not be the perfect fit. Don’t be afraid to switch, just do it right.

    Do your homework before you go through the paperwork (and trust me, it can be a long and arduous process). Advisors know what they are talking about for the most part, but a little leg-work on your own can’t hurt, either. Then you can count that over and done with. Then all that’s left is actually graduating.

    Janne Perona is a junior majoring in criminal justice administration. She can be reached at

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