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Choosing a Major: FAQ

When do I need to make a decision about my major?

You should declare a major by the end of your sophomore year. However, we strongly recommend that you declare your major sooner...by mid-April of your freshman year. At that time you pre-register for your sophomore fall semester classes .

Some students wait until late in the sophomore year to choose their majors. While many of these students still graduate in four years, there are no guarantees. It depends very much on the courses you take and the curriculum requirements of the major you choose. Delaying the decision may give you more time to decide, but it may also mean that more time will be needed to complete the courses required for graduation.

Can I start as "undeclared"at Clarion and graduate in four years?

Yes, you can start as an undeclared student, choose your major, and graduate in four years. Obviously, there is a limit as to how long you can stay undeclared and still be able to complete your bachelor's degree requirements on time. It depends on how soon you choose a major, the major you choose, and the courses you take.

Begin exploring majors in your first semester. Take courses, such as general education courses, that can be applied to most majors. Always see your academic adviser for help in course selection. If you decide on your major by the end of your freshman year, you should be able to graduate in four years.

What courses should I take while I am undecided?

Undeclared students should take courses from three categories: introductory courses in majors of potential interest, general education courses that are broadly applicable to the requirements of many majors, and elective courses that are specifically designed for undeclared students, such as AS 260 Career Exploration and Planning. Your academic advisor will help you select the right courses.

Where can I get help for choosing my major?

No one can tell you what your major should be, but at Clarion there are many people who can talk with you about exploring majors and guide you through the decision-making process. We recommend beginning with the following campus resources:

Academic Departments

  • Department brochures or handbooks
  • Check sheets listing each academic program's course requirements
  • Faculty and students who can give you information and insight into the courses, degree requirements, and career options
  • Information about departmental activities, such as honorary organizations, student professional organizations, and experiential programs (field experiences and internships)

University Advising Services Center (U-ASC)

  • Academic advising for undeclared students
  • Information for students exploring majors or those considering a change in major
  • A workshop for undeclared students on the steps to take for making a decision about a major
  • Information on Clarion's majors and minors

Counseling Services

  • Individual counseling for students exploring academic majors and careers
  • Paper-and-pencil interest and personality inventories for self-assessment
  • DISCOVER, a computerized self-assessment and career exploration program
  • Information on Clarion's majors
  • Occupational information

Career Services Individual assistance with career planning

  • Information on the jobs that graduates obtain (categorized by major)
  • Free publications about choosing a major and developing career plans
  • An internet handout listing many websites with occupational and career planning information
  • Information on experiential opportunities, such as seasonal/summer jobs, part-time jobs, and internships
  • An internet handout listed many web sites with occupational and career planning information

How will I know when I've chosen the "right" major?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no single major that is right for you. While it is true that certain majors such as nursing, computer science, and accounting prepare students for specific career fields, a far greater number of majors provide learning opportunities and experiences that can be applied to a fairly large number of career fields. It is important for you to complete a thorough exploration and decision-making process to find the major that is a good fit for you. Refer to Before Deciding... for additional information.

How are careers related to majors?

Is there a one-to-one link between the career you plan to pursue and the college major you choose? Some professional fields have certification or licensing requirements and indicate the need to choose certain undergraduate majors. You should always determine whether the career field you plan to enter has any specific academic requirements.

However, there are many career fields where qualifications rather than academic major are emphasized. Often your complete college background is more important than the major you selected. The following factors are also considered by employers and graduate school admissions programs:

  • academic achievements
  • choice of electives
  • campus and community involvements
  • skills and personal characteristics
  • career-related and other work experiences
  • knowledge of and demonstrated interest in a career field

Should I add a minor to my major?

An academic program that includes a minor makes you more marketable, expands your career options, and provides you with stronger credentials for a job or graduate school. A minor usually requires completion of six courses (18 credits) in a field of study. With a little careful planning, you can complete a minor while working on your major. In many cases, the courses required for a minor can fulfill general education requirements. Your academic advisor can help you with planning your course schedule.

What are the advantages of starting in college as an "undeclared" major?

If you complete a thorough exploration and decision-making process during your first year in college, starting out as an undeclared major will increase the probability that you will make a good choice of major. Individuals continually grow and change throughout life. There is a good chance that you will encounter a series of career choices as you discover new things about yourself and the world of work. As you face each decision, knowing how to research options, evaluate alternatives, and make decisions will be beneficial.