OWL Talks

Do I Need to Pick a Major In My First Year?

Posted by Kelly Hart on Sep 8, 2018 12:03:00 PM
Kelly Hart

figuring out which direction to takeSome freshmen are blessed with knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. They have a plan, they know which departments to enter, and they can easily find resources on how to get where they want to go.

The rest of us, well…we don’t have it so easy.

The “major” question is one of the biggest issues on most new students’ minds. If you aren’t sure of what you want to do, how can you commit to a multi-year track?

The short answer? Don’t stress. Nobody expects you to decide your future career right after enrollment. However, there are plenty of good reasons you should commit to a major, which we’ll detail below.

Should I wait to declare if I’m unsure?

Many students get stressed about picking a major. What if you change your mind? What if the program isn’t what you thought it would be? What if you discover a passion for underwater archery in your senior year??

choosing a major can be stressful, just relax, and breathe

Hey, just relax. Take a breath.

In truth, many students wait until their sophomore year to declare their major. This option provides one key benefit: You have time to get familiar with the school, its programs, and its academic advising services before deciding. This information can be hard to get a handle on before you arrive, but it can be hugely beneficial for making up your mind on which course-work path will work for you.

Why shouldn’t I wait?

Take your time, but don’t take too long to decide. In our experience, students are almost always more successful when they select a major and stick with it rather than floating around until they make up their minds.

  • Selecting a major in your first year lets you follow specific coursework in the order it’s intended, rather than bouncing from major to major and taking classes haphazardly.
  • Structured coursework helps students stay focused and gives them clear goals to work toward.
  • And honestly, changing majors is always an option. Westfield has over 27 different degree programs, so you’ll have plenty of options for the right fit.

students working at a career center intership

According to the experts at the Westfield Career Center, students who enter specific major course paths generally see higher retention from year-to-year, higher graduation rates, and are more successful overall.

So what should I do?

In the end, the decision is up to you. If you know what you want to do, great! You’ll be set for success at Westfield. But if you’re uncomfortable committing to a program, we suggest the following strategies:

  • Take your time and explore your options. When you arrive on campus, visit the Career Center and speak with our counselors to learn more about each career track.
  • Look into student organizations on campus that let you network with upperclassmen and professors. There’s no better source of intel than the people who live and breathe the program each day. (Don’t worry. Our advising services will help you make these connections.)
  • Start building good study habits. College is a big change from the life you’re used to, and more important than picking a direction is establishing good study habits that will help you succeed, no matter which path you choose.

And stay loose! College is an exciting experience. Take the necessary steps to get the info you need, but remember that no choice is permanent. Get accustomed to your new surroundings and start building relationships with the other students, professors, and advisors who will support you throughout your college career.

Topics: Things college freshmen need to know, Choosing the right college, Getting the most out of your college experience, The Westfield State Experience, Enhance Your College Experience

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