by Elizabeth Whalley, director of academic advising mat UW Oshkosh
The Undergraduate Advising Resource Center (UARC) is the central advising office at UWO. Our staff of Professional Advisors work with students in every major, as well as, students who are still deciding. We have detailed knowledge of all of the majors offered at UWO and the expertise to help those still deciding. We understand the reasons why a student might be undecided and can provide individualized guidance to help you make progress towards a decision.
The most important factor to keep in mind when choosing a major is YOU. Your advisor will keep the focus on YOU by encouraging you to identify your Interests, Skills and Values. Knowing yourself well is key to making any big decision. Advisors will challenge you if you are not being true to yourself because we know success comes to those who know themselves well and work to their strengths.
Usually students who are undecided need more information about their options (BTW-this is true of decided students too!). You may have some majors in mind based on classes you took in high school, or have interest in the career of a family member, but not feel confident enough to commit. That is actually a good thing! That is not enough information to make an informed decision. In this case, your advisor will provide resources to help you research areas of interest more in-depth. Once you know more about a major; requirements, expectations, what you will learn, and related career options you are in a better position to decide if it is a good fit for you.
If having this basic information about a major is helpful, but not enough to help you decide, your advisor will recommend other activities to help you explore. A key one among them involves making a connection with experts in your areas of interest. You advisor can help you develop a list of questions to use for Informational Interviews of faculty and professionals in the areas that interest you. This is a great way to get more in-depth knowledge to increase (or decrease) your interest in the field. And, as a bonus, these connections could lead to future opportunities for you!
Interested, but still not sure? At this stage your advisor will help you identify “exposure” activities that can help you see and feel how a particular major or career might fit you (or not). “Exposure” activities might include taking a class in the major, joining a related student club/organization, or getting hands-on experience through job-shadowing, volunteering, internships, and part-time jobs. All of these activities will help you with your decision and look great on your resume. Bonus!
If you are thinking “Wow, there is a lot to do to choose a major” you are right. There is work involved in making any important decision. Be assured that doing the work up-front will reduce the likelihood of changing majors and increase the likelihood of success in your chosen major. Don’t worry, your advisor is here to help you every step of the way and will be a sounding board as you do the work to decide. We are excited to work with you!
This article was written by Elizabeth Whalley, director of academic advising in the UW Oshkosh Undergraduate Advising Resource Center.