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How can I get help choosing a college major?

Choosing A Major And Minor In College

Jonathan O’Brien, Ed.D. (Associate Dean of Students, Occidental College) gives expert video advice on: How can I get help choosing a college major?; Is there a particular order I should follow when signing up for courses in my major?; What is the best time to choose my college major and minor? and more...

Is there a particular order I should follow when signing up for courses in my major?

Yes, it's very important to meet with a faculty advisor and to follow the description of your major closely. This can be found in the catalog. It can also be found in any supplemental hand outs or information that your faculty advisor provides for you. In order to be able to successfully graduate with the combination of general education or core requirements, you need to follow a carefully prescribed plan that your faculty advisor and you will follow. Typically this includes taking lower division courses in your first and second year, getting much of your general education out of the way and then moving on to taking major courses as well as possibly some minor courses. This is a very carefully structured process and I cannot stress enough how important it is to speak to your faculty advisor early on, so that you don't make any mistakes down the road.

What is a college 'minor'?

A minor is an alternative field of study that is a compliment, or perhaps entirely different from your main field of study. Students use minors to fulfil either a personal interest or to supplement whatever it is that they are taking as their major. It typically involves a smaller number of units than the major, hence it's called a minor. And oftentimes it can be completed in approximately two semesters, it might take about six classes to be able to complete a minor.

What is the best time to choose my college major and minor?

Students who are choosing a major must make their decision before the second or third year. However, most schools, colleges and universities often require the students to declare their major by the second yea; that is by the end of the soft more year. Whereas, other schools leave the process entirely open. It is better that the students make their decision on which major to choose by the end of the second year or even before as all the general education courses basically end by the second year. That is why the faculty advisor working with you will advice you to make the decision before the middle of your soft more year.

What if I want to change my college major?

Changing your major can be very simple, especially in the earlier years of your education. It is something that should be anticipated. Changing one's major often requires the permission of the faculty advisor who you have been working with. It will often also require some permission from the college, or at least from the department that you are leaving. It will always require permission from the department that you are about to enter. The process is not that time consuming, but it is something that needs to be done. This is because until the paperwork is actually filed, your major will not be recorded on any transcripts or any documentation that you may need when you want to apply for scholarships or awards, and when it may be important to have a certain major. It's important to get that paperwork filed early.