This week Lake Voice News caught up with Shelly Mann, an Academic Advisor for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota Duluth, to get some quick tips for undeclared/undecided students. Here is what we came up with:
1) Review the list of majors and minors offered at your university
Simply seeing what is available to you can be a good first step. You may come across something that catches your attention that you had not thought about before; or you may be reminded of a major you had thought about in the past that you had forgotten about. At the very least, you will be fully aware of what is available to you.
2) Take introductory courses that fulfill Liberal/General Education requirements
Two birds, one stone. Along with the benefit of making progress toward your degree, taking intro classes in subjects you are thinking of majoring in allows you to meet the faculty you would be learning from. You can also get a better idea of what the major will entail.
Maybe you know what you want to do, but not how to get there. Maybe you are completely at a loss; regardless, taking note of what you have enjoyed in the past and what your interests and values are can go a long way toward helping you make this decision. If you aren’t sure how to make these assessments yourself, or if your own self-reflection hasn’t yielded the desired results, you may want to take a course like Major and Career Exploration at UMD or Exploring Majors and Academic Possibilities at UWS that will give you access to additional tools and forms of self-assessment.
4) Utilize Career Services
The Career Services offices can help link majors with careers and provide additional insights into your search. At UMD, for instance, the Career and Internship Services office conducts a yearly survey of their recent graduates and follows up with where they are working, what their salary is, and other information that they then compile for students to view and utilize in their major search. Many offices provide information about what you can do with specific majors, as well as giving you some context for your decision
5) Get involved with department clubs and organizations
Similar to taking introductory courses, getting involved with department clubs and organizations can give you a feel for the kind of people, classes, and information you will be surrounded by in a specific major. This will help you make connections to help you along the way.
Overall, Shelly’s best advice is, “don’t be scared to explore. There is a stigma around coming in undecided or undeclared, but I think it is actually a pretty good place to start. Coming in and starting out with your lib eds, you will gain exposure to all different departments and areas that you possibly haven’t heard of before, and there is a good chance they will strike your interest or help to change your mind.”
So there you have it. Explore and find what works best for you!