The Undecided Major: Tips for picking a major at UW Oshkosh

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One of questions that you will probably get when talking about going to college is: “What are you majoring in?” For some people, this question is a no brainer, but for others there may be a little more hesitation. If you’re undecided about a major, don’t fret! About 1/3 of incoming freshman are undecided and of those that have declared a major, 80 percent aren’t certain they’ve chosen the right one.

So you’re in good company. In fact, I was one of those undecided students my freshman year and to be completely honest I probably picked a new major every week. There were so many options that I couldn’t narrow down the best fit for me.

Finding my niche took awhile, but I’ve finally settled on a mix between computer science and business. Woo!

I do understand that it can be a stressful place to be. Luckily, there are a ton of resources available at UW Oshkosh to help you figure out the best fit for you. Here are some of my suggestions – almost of all of which I used personally!

  1. Take some time looking at the list of majors/minors at UW Oshkosh and cross off every item that is a definite no. For example, I knew right away that I didn’t want to go into the health field, so I crossed off all the majors associated with that type of degree. This will help you narrow down your choices and it won’t be quite as overwhelming.
  2. Take an array of general education classes. You might find a passion for a subject you’ve never considered before. I took a computer programming class my second semester and realized I liked to program. Now I’m in my second computer science class and will be taking more in the coming semesters.
  3. Join a student organization. Joining a club, especially a departmental club, can give you a sense for what that major is like. You’ll meet people currently in the major and can ask them questions about what they like or don’t like about that field. If you don’t want to make a full commitment to joining a club, simply stop by several different clubs over the course of the semester.
  4. Talk with family, friends, students, faculty and advisors. The more people you talk to, the more perspectives you’ll get. It’s important to remember, however, that it is your decision in the end. Don’t let yourself get convinced you’re destined to become something you have no passion for doing. After a while you may start to realize you’re consistently talking about the same program or major and your future might start to look a little clearer.
  5. Volunteer. Help out at different organizations to see if anything strikes your interest. The key concept is to get involved, somehow. When you’re out in the community, you’re not only helping people, you’re also meeting a diverse group of people who might be able to give you some direction on future careers.
  6. Attend Preview Day at UW Oshkosh. Today is Exploratory Preview Day, but we also host a variety of Preview Day events each fall and in spring. These events give you a sense for the campus as a whole, as well as offer opportunity to get more in-depth information on future majors. If you can’t make it to one of these events, schedule an appointment with an Admissions counselor to discuss some of the options we have available. You may also be able to set up individual visits with a specific major by emailing the department directly. Once you begin college, you will have an Academic Advisor assigned to assist you with your career exploration.
  7. Keep an open mind. Sometimes we get the idea that we are only good at one thing or don’t want to take the time to explore other options. Try to keep your options open when you’re undecided – you might surprise yourself!
  8. Take advantage of career tools. If you can, take some skill assessments! These tools look at your personality and aptitudes and suggest careers that might mesh well with who you are.
  9. Do some research. Are you thinking of possibly becoming a history major but are hesitant because you don’t know what jobs you would get with that degree? Several websites exist that help you make the connection between a major and various career paths you can take with it. One of my favorites? “What Can I Do With This Major?” It has just about every major listed on that website. Check it out.
  10. Add a minor. Minors can be overlooked, but can help you tailor your educational experience to best fit your future plans. Some majors require you to have a minor, while others do not. You can add as many minors as you want. Interested in Business and Psychology? Choose one as your major and minor in the other! It might take a little bit more time to graduate, but not as much as if you were to add an additional major.
  11. Relax and breathe. Your major is not going to dictate what you do for the rest of your life. Not sure you believe me? Ask some professionals in a field you’re interested in the route they took to get to their current positions. Some of their majors might surprise you! A lot of majors share similarities and can lend themselves to a variety of positions.

I could go on and on, but for more tips, see How to Choose a Major on the Undergraduate Advising Resource Center’s website.

There are so many majors/minors/emphases to choose from, but hopefully this guide helps you narrow them down. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is OK to be undecided. Take your time and consider your options carefully. If you do that, you can’t go wrong. Good luck!

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