Jamie Magrish is an undeclared freshman, but thinks she may want to pursue a career in health care. Last week, she took advantage of an informational program about Northern Kentucky University’s majors sponsored by the university’s advising office. Now she is a little closer to making her decision.
“I’m excited to see the career I am interested in, exercise science,” she said. “I’m not sure if I want to do it yet, but I want to see what it is like.”
The advising center developed the Thinking About a Major series that Magrish attended to provide students with informational sessions on the various majors the university offers. A representative for each major speaks to students about requirements in the major and job possibilities in the field after graduation.
Vicki Berling, interim director of Norse Advising, said the idea developed in meetings among NKU’s advisers.
“The number one major for undergraduate students at Northern is undeclared,” Berling said. “While it is not a problem for students coming in not knowing what they want to major in, it is something that very quickly needs to be purposefully thought through.”
When choosing a major, students should look to people they know in that field, she said.
“Talk to other people who are in the same major that you are thinking about,” she said. “Talk to professionals. Certainly talk to the faculty members. Do some exploring yourself.”
Getting freshmen on track to a career encourages them to stay in school, said Eric Anderson, an adviser for NKU’s College of Health Professions.
“We are finding through studies, if freshmen come in and they are undecided, it is less focused,” he said. “They don’t have a goal and they are more likely to drop out. If we can help them to decide on a major, and get them a specific goal, retention will be higher.”
Anderson said students who aren’t sure what path to take should gather as much information as possible about opportunities available at NKU.
“If a student is out there floating, not knowing exactly what they want, we can narrow it down and find where their interests and their goals meet,” he said.
Students can also set up time with the advisers to discuss requirements in a one-on-one setting. Students who have more detailed questions or want to discuss GPA questions can do so privately.
The advising center provides software to students to assist in choosing a major. The software gauges student interests and provides information regarding majors with that focus.
Berling said students who do not find their selected major satisfying should meet with an adviser to explore other options, especially those early in their college careers.
NKU now allows students to declare majors online, without completing physical paperwork, making the declaration process easier. Another key to future success is monitoring job demand in each field, she said.
“It’s important to keep both things in mind – what are you passionate about or what do you love and what you can get a job in.”
Berling said the ongoing presentations are informal, so even students who can’t be there at the exact start time are still encouraged to attend.