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How to Graduate On Time If You Start College as 'Undeclared'

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michele Chism

Michele is presently a part time adjunct instructor at Faulkner University in the Counselor Education Department where she teaches Measurement and Assessment and Diagnosis and Treatment. I formerly taught at the University of West Alabama where I taught School Counseling and College Student Development Counseling. I was also the Student Success Coordinator for the College of Education.

Even if you start college as an undeclared major, you can still graduate on time. Explore what it means to have an undecided major, review the concept of general curriculum, discover how freshmen orientation can help, and understand that there's no rush to choose a major. Updated: 10/06/2021

An Undecided Major

Kristi is in her freshmen year of college. She is still an undecided major. She and her parents are concerned that if she does not make a decision soon, she will be really behind her schedule of when she should graduate. Her parents are in a tight financial situation, and they are pressuring her to declare a major, and her friends tease her because she does not know what she wants to major in.

Kristi was talking to her friend, Jane, about her indecision. Jane recommended that Kristi talk to a career counselor in the Career Center. Kristi did just that. Kristi met with the Career Counselor, who began by assuring Kristi that it was not unusual as a freshman for her not to know what major to pursue. She told Kristi that 50% or more of students will change their major at some time in college. By delaying choosing a major, Kristi is less likely to change her mind later.

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  • 0:02 An Undecided Major
  • 0:51 General Education Curriculum
  • 2:15 No Rush
  • 2:32 Freshmen Orientation
  • 3:08 Choosing a Major
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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General Education Curriculum

The Career Counselor explained to Kristi that in most majors you will be taking general curriculum courses your first two years. The general curriculum is a program of study that teaches students to conduct research in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. It also exposes students to diversity and appreciation of many cultures. During the general curriculum courses, students develop the ability to make critical and logical assessment of information, learn to deliver well thought out and persuasive arguments and acquire the knowledge to problem solve. The general education curriculum is designed to give all college graduates a well-rounded background and not just knowledge in the major.

All students should know something about mathematics, science, history, and English. In fact, if she were to go to graduate school, the entry exams would require her to have a broad knowledge in several subjects. In the early days of American colleges, students went to college for a broad education. Most students who went to college came from wealthy families and wanted to be educated rather than trained for a profession. As the economy has changed, it seems that companies are asking for people with technical backgrounds. It has been found, though, that these companies still value the critical thinking, decision-making, reading and writing skills students learn in their liberal arts courses.

No Rush

Kristi came to realize that even if she chose a major that had different requirements than the general curriculum, she would not be too far behind as long as she made a decision by her junior year. Kristi would begin meeting with the counselor on a weekly basis and explore career interests and options.

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