So, Your Student is Undeclared or Wants to Explore Majors. How You Can Support Your Student Through the Major Exploration Process.
At the Knights Major Exploration and Transition Center (KMETC), we understand that it can be tough to support a student who is undecided or indecisive about selecting a college major. We want you to know, we are in their corner. Our team will guide your student through the exploration process to declaring a major. But we cannot do it without your support. This guide will help parents gain a better understanding of what it means to be undeclared, why it is okay, and how to help and encourage their student through the exploration process.
Let us start by debunking some myths about being undeclared.
Myth 1 - My student will not graduate on time, typically in four-years, if they are undeclared or want to explore majors.
FALSE. The National Center for Education Statistics found that a typical U.S. college student will change their major three times over the course of their college career. Students who complete the Major Exploration Program with the Knights Major Exploration Center will explore their skills and interest before declaring a major. This exploration period at the beginning of their education means a student is less likely to change their major after declaring and be on track to complete their degree on time.
Myth 2 - My student will not be able to get into graduate school without the 'right' major.
FALSE. Many professional schools seek a diverse group of college majors when admitting incoming students. While some majors do strongly relate to career options (e.g. teaching, engineering), much of your education and experiences outside of the classroom will help you prepare for your future work. Your major is designed to teach you transferable skills that can be used in multiple career paths.
Myth 3 - Medical and Law School requires specific majors to be admitted. My student will not be accepted if they do not select a medical or legal related major.
FALSE. Today’s Medical and Law schools are looking for students who have strong curricular and co-curricular portfolio.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, it is a misconception that students must major in a science discipline to get into medical school. Medical school do not have a required or even preferred majors necessary to be consider. What is important, is that students select a major that will motivate them to be successful during their undergraduate career.
(Association of American Medical Colleges from https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/how-choose-best-premed-major/)
The same goes for entrance into law school. The Association of American Law Schools states that law schools will not accept students with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field. Due to the intensive curriculum of law school, students may consider certain majors that can prepare them for the rigors of the reading and writing component. Those majors to consider are not limited to traditional “legal” majors, but rather include philosophy or even history.
(Association of American Law Schools from https://www.aals.org/prospective-law-students/faqs/)
Myth 4 - My student must figure this all out on their own.
FALSE. Your student may feel that they are alone in the major exploration process. They may be embarrassed being undeclared while all their classmates seem to have their major and career path figured out. This is simply not true. With the help of the highly trained experts in the Knights Major Exploration and Transition Center Academic Advisors, UCF Career Services Career Counselors, and YOU, your student can successfully navigate the major exploration process.
Guiding Questions For Families
Parents and family members should keep the lines of communication open while your student is exploring majors. As you are having conversations with your student, consider asking the following questions to support their journey.
- What is your favorite class this semester? What is that you like about it?
- What course are you not looking forward to completing? Why do you think you will not enjoy it?
- What is one thing you hope to get out of a career?
- Try to gear the conversation away from specific career paths, and more towards an overall vision. Allows students to answer more broadly -to work outside or to work with animals.
- If your student comes to you question their declared major, consider asking these tougher questions.
- What do you not like about this major?
- Is there an area within the major you still enjoy?
- Did you select this major because your felt pressured by your family?
- What majors are you considering?
- How can I help?
Encouraging Your Undeclared Student
- Do not pressure your student to declare a major if they are unsure or select their major for them. The Major Exploration Program guides students through the exploration process, while providing a supportive academic environment where students can complete requirements while learning about their interests and skills.
- Encourage your student to complete our free self-assessments to learn more about their interests, values, and goals. Then review the results with your student to help them define their goals for college.
- Encourage your student to meet with their Knights Major Exploration and Transition Center academic advisor and peer coach.
- Suggest participation in co-curricular activities, such as clubs or student organizations.
- Reassure your student that this is a process and it takes time. Students who complete the Major Exploration Program through KMETC finally declare a major, they do so with a lot of knowledge about their choice and the satisfaction that they have made a good decision.
- Listen to what your student has to say. It is hard for students to be open and honest with their parents. If your student is struggling to pick a major or is unhappy in their current major, be their support. Help them work through the process of selecting or changing their major, while reassuring them there is a path for them.
Parent and Support FAQ
Can my student graduate on time, typically in four-years, if they are undeclared or want to explore majors?
Absolutely! The National Center for Education Statistics found that a typical U.S. college student will change their major three times over the course of their college career. Students who complete the Major Exploration Program with the Knights Major Exploration Center will explore their skills and interest before declaring a major. This exploration period at the beginning of their education means a student is less likely to change their major after declaring and be on track to complete their degree on time.
How can I help my student during the exploration process?
Encourage your student to take responsibility for exploring majors and participate in the process by utilizing campus resources and keeping an open mind. Support your student by openly sharing your experience in the working world to offer insight. It is important that you avoid selecting a major for your student and focus on their academic interests and strengths to help them make the best major selection for themselves. Continue to share important information regarding the major exploration process and reassure them that they will get out of it what they put in.
What kind of academic advising is available to my student who is unsure of their current program and wants to explore majors?
Any current undergraduate student interested in exploring majors at UCF can meet with a Peer Coach and Academic Advisor in KMETC for Major Exploring appointments. During these appointments, students will learn about major exploration resources, important policies and deadlines, and the Major Exploration Program.
Will the Knights Major Exploration and Transition Center continue to advise my student once they have declared a major?
Once a student declares a major, the academic advisor in the Knights Major Exploration and Transition Center will refer the student to the appropriate college for their academic advising in that college.