You can change your mind and your major!
The University of Florida offers a million-gazillion (okay, a multitude of) degrees. How is your student supposed to choose a major?
Most students begin college with some idea of what they want to study, but it is not uncommon for them to change majors. When it came to my own Gators, they both considered changing their major. One chose the route of change. She turned her original major into a minor as she moved forward into her new major. The other considered how far behind it would put her, then chose to add a minor to round out her degree. She was also able to dovetail into a more specific allied masters program that addressed her specific interests.
Choosing and changing a major isn’t always easy. There are several ways you can support your student as they try to decide on their best path forward. A significant reason that students hesitate to declare a major is because they do not understand the career options associated with it. This same reason rears its ugly visage again when they start to REconsider their major. Encourage your students to search the undergraduate catalog. It spells out what courses are required for majors they are interested in pursuing. They should also meet with an academic advisor and visit the Career Connections Center. There are multiple resources to help them there.
Explore Your Options
Yes, students at UF are encouraged to choose a major upon admission. But they also have the option to choose Exploratory as their temporary major. This option allows students to take a variety of classes, then declare their major during sophomore year. A student can only do this in humanities and letters, social and behavioral sciences, or science and engineering. This declaration allows students to, quite literally, explore their interests. Students interested in this option can visit the Academic Advising Center. It’s especially important to explore any interests and skills while taking all those required general education courses. That’s the time to uncover avenues that may lead to new studies and career choices.
If your student decides to change their major during their time at UF, they first need to speak to an academic advisor in the new department of that major to see if it is possible. In the business school, certain majors (such as finance and accounting) require a B or better in specified classes to be able to continue to major in that field. We’ve known students who had to change their major based on this requirement. A student can also change majors within the same college provided they have not completed more than half of their major’s courses.
If a student is changing majors to a college different from that of their current major, they must consult an academic advisor at that college. The further a student progresses through their time at UF, the more difficult it becomes to change majors…and graduate on time. And while specific timelines can be overrated, the whole “graduate on time” phrase comes into significant play in regard to many scholarships as well as credit overage.
HaveUHeard that you can also support your student’s pathfinding by encouraging them to get involved on campus or in the community? Student organizations, part-time jobs, and volunteer roles are all good ways for students to investigate career options and network with professionals. There are a great many clubs and organizations at UF that students can involve themselves in. (See our blog Getting Involved for more on that.)
The Path Yet Taken
Job shadowing is another great avenue of exploration. UF has an annual job shadowing program during the spring semester in which selected students are matched with a local professional whose work aligns with their career interests. Family friends are also a great resource. Talking to them often allows for a more candid conversation about specific careers because of the existing relationship.
There are so many classes out there that could change their lives and occupations. But your student won’t have any idea unless or until they take them. Spending a little time surveying, investigating, and exploring can lead to some eye-opening adventures and life-changing discovery. My older daughter currently works in a field for which she could have just as easily graduated from UF with an advertising degree rather than a Business Marketing degree. Some degrees, like these, are often interchangeable with the job being sought or offered. Her internships and positions with many different UF organizations were what ultimately identified and led her to the job she now enjoys. ( Okay, so the fact that the person doing the hiring was another Gator alum did not hurt. It’s no exaggeration–the Gator Nation IS everywhere!)
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