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Insights on education news and trends worldwide

Upasana Gupta -

What's Your College Major?

Learn how Colleges Help Undecided Students

WHATíS your major? Is a primary, defining question for high schoolers and college students, but with a growing number of possibilities and options available at educational institiutions today, this question has become harder for students to answer.

(Explore our comprehensive directory of College Majors)

Colleges inorder to stay competitive and current are offering students with a wide selection of majors menu- students are allowed to pick one, pick two or even create their own individual studies program. Students are also encouraged to explore a new interest with a minor or certificate program or take part in one of the pre-professional programs.

The variety is endless...

For instance, at The University of Michigan, undergraduates get a choice of selecting a major from over 150 major programs. The University of Maryland proudly declares, "With 90 undergraduate majors across 10 colleges, weíve got you covered."

New college majors and academic programs are constantly added to the list partly because of technological innovation which is requiring educational institutions to add emerging programs to their major list so students can be prepared to embrace disciplines like cybersecurity, forensics, social media management, health informatics, homeland security, bio science and more.

(Suggested Read: Why Major in Cybersecurity?; Nursing Career in High Demand)

Some students go to college knowing exactly what they want to do. But most donít. Recently, I conducted a web survey to find out how many college freshman and high schoolers have declared a major. From a pool of about 200 respondents, I surprisingly found that close to 75 percent are uncertain about their major and still confused on how to decide?

"Everyday I think about college and which major to pursue, it's almost like a rain cloud hanging over your head," says Depika Anchaliya, a high school student at a private educational institution in Somerset, New Jersey.

She is one of the many young students who is struggling to be defined and constantly face the pressure to decide which major to take up? The big fear plaguing undecided students is making a wrong choice leading to added semesters in college and escalating tuition.

However, college officials recognize that deciding on a major can be overwhelming. So they have removed the 'undecided' label and now encourage students to take up Exploratory Programs which essentially provides resources for students who have not yet chosen a major and those who wish to change their major, helping them to explore their major options and make progress toward degree completion. Students find the tools and resources necessary to guide them toward a major and career path that is best suited for their abilities and aspirations. Resources include, among others, a monthly newsletter, a Majors and Minors Fair, a peer mentoring program, a learning community, and various online tools. Students in this program are advised to complete their general education requirements and must select a major prior to or when these requirements are completed.

For example, resources like the learning community helps undecided students in feeling more connected to the university, through increased contact with faculty and staff and by interacting and building study support with other first-year students who enter a college as Exploratory.

A lot of universities and colleges in the US offer Exploratory Programs and encourage students to investigate different areas of interest within a stipulated deadline.

"There is great value in exploring. Students who explore wisely, not only in searching for a major, but in using all the program resources available to them in preparation for a career or graduate school, will profit by the effort," says Phil Betz, director of admissions at Monmouth College, a private educational institution located in Illinois.

It's good to have decided a major in high school, but honestly it's ok to be undecided, as college is about finding what courses or majors interest any student the most.