Saturday, November 2, 2013

Why College Freshmen Should Declare A Major

Some students know by seventh grade the path they want to pursue.  Others have no idea the career path that interests them.  Many students enter their first year of college as an Undeclared major.  They intend to get their basic subjects out of the way while they explore and contemplate their career options.

Of my five children who have gone to college, only one entered freshman year as an undeclared major and then I never allowed that again.  It seemed like a logical choice for that student since she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and she was a little bit afraid to declare a major for fear she would be ‘stuck’ with that choice forever.

Why do I not allow Undeclared majors anymore?

When a student declares a major at a college or university, they are eligible for departmental scholarships.  The college/university gives scholarships to undeclared majors, but most departments also have money specifically for their students.  Some of these scholarships are available to entering freshmen; some are only available to upperclassmen.  Undeclared majors do not qualify for departmental scholarships as they are not connected to a particular department.

What if your student really is undecided?  Declare a major anyway.

My third child was undecided, but I told him he must declare a major.  I didn’t care what it was or if he changed later (as many students do), but he must declare a major.  He chose piano performance and ended up with a very nice scholarship that included stipends.  He later added a second  major, but his education was mostly paid for.  In his case, the department had just added an endowed professor and there was money for piano students in the predominantly band-oriented music department.

If your student is interested in two different options, declare a double major.  This is common at many schools.  Sometimes, that will put your student in two different departments which might give two different scholarship opportunities.

During college, your student should always see what scholarships are available to upperclassmen.  Many students look really hard for freshman scholarships, but forget that scholarships do exist for later years.  Students should check the college and department websites of their university to find out what is available.  Be sure to check application deadlines.

Have your student declare a major, but allow them to change their mind later. 

This was shared at the Let's Homeschool High School Blog Hop. 
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9peasMom said...

We learned this with Noah, and now that Isaac is getting ready for college next Fall we've been insistent that he must declare a Major - it opens up a lot of doors.

KarenTrina said...

It does open a lot of doors! And it only takes us doing it wrong once to figure that out!

Linda said...

Visiting you blog from the Homeschool High
School Blog Hop!
I'm not to this point yet, but my daughter is looking at Veterinary medicine and physics, those two as majors should offer up some different opportunities for scholarships, right? Thanks so much for sharing!

karentrina said...

Yes, I would think those departments would have scholarships. Has she looked into the 4-H Vet Tech program? My daughter did that and worked with 2 different vets before she decided she did not want to be a Vet, but wanted to work with people.

Unknown said...

Hi Karen, It's Jackie stopping by from the February Let's Homeschool High School Blog Hop.

Wow! I had no idea how important declaring a major is. Thanks for posting such valuable info. My daughter is a couple of years away, but wants to attend Atlanta Art Institute. We''ll see.

Thanks for linking up with us. I look forward to you linking up with us in March.


karentrina said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jackie. Not sure how an art institute compares to other colleges for declaring a major. She may change her mind in couple years, though, you never know. :-)

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