At DeSales University we believe that students who enter “undeclared” have the opportunity to explore a variety of majors. That is why you will not be required to declare a major until the first semester of your junior year. DeSales University offers many resources and offices to help you, the undeclared student, find the right major while staying on course to graduate in four years.
Some interesting statistics about college students:
- 70%, even if declared, have some degree of uncertainty about their major and career goals.
- 20% change their major between the time that they apply to a University and the time that they register for their first class.
- Over 70% change from one major to another during college and many change more than once.
- Almost 40% actually graduate in a major about which they knew nothing in high school.
- 50% of all graduates change their career plans after they finish college.
Potential Advantages of Being Undeclared
Many students declare a major prematurely and without devoting adequate attention to exploring options. Students who enter with a declared major often have firm expectations that they will achieve a particular set of goals and resist altering these plans. They may struggle to accept that an alternative career path is a better match for their values and strengths or they may fear disappointing others. As a result, it may take these individuals several semesters to acknowledge that a change is needed. On the other hand, undeclared students usually enter college with an open mind. They are willing to explore a wider variety of options from the start, taking advantage of resources provided by the Career Services Office and by their academic advisors. As a result, undeclared students can frequently identify their ideal major and career path more quickly than other students.
In addition to making a good decision more quickly, undeclared students can also avoid the pitfalls of stopping and starting in various majors. Because they use campus resources more effectively, students who enter undeclared tend to change majors less often than others. Consequently, they do not take as many unnecessary courses and are more likely to graduate on time.
Potential Disadvantages and Recommended Solutions
Most undeclared students can graduate within four years if they work closely with their academic advisors. However, students should note that there are highly specialized fields with structured curricula (e.g., Education, Nursing, and the Physician Assistant program) in which an early decision is critical. In these fields, if one does not declare early, it can be difficult or even impossible to graduate within four years.
Even in fields that are not highly specialized, the longer that it takes a student to declare a major, the greater the likelihood that they will need additional time to complete their degree. We believe that it is critical for students to find the right fit no matter how long that takes. On the other hand, the reality is that there are limits to the amount of time and money that a person can spend on their undergraduate studies. Therefore, we strongly encourage undeclared students to seek help from the Career Services Office during their first semester on campus. In most cases, if students take advantage of campus resources early on in their undergraduate careers, they can identify an appropriate major quickly enough to graduate within four years.
Some undeclared students may find that they are unmotivated and/or indecisive. It will be important for these students to take advantage of the Counseling Center, as well as the Career Services Office.
Most freshmen at DeSales University take the following common courses in their first semester:
- English 103: Communication and Thought I
- One Foreign Language or World Cultures Course
- One course in Philosophy, Mathematics, or the Social Sciences
- PE 100: Lifetime Fitness and Wellness (one-credit)
Students who have declared a major take two additional courses as recommended by their department. Alternatively, undeclared students may complete their first-semester schedule either by selecting two courses in a subject(s) that interest them or by taking two additional general education courses. This gives students an opportunity to explore more subjects and to determine if they wish to study any of these subjects in more depth.
Making a Decision
In order to most efficiently and effectively choose a major, students should begin to seek individual assistance from the Career Service Office during their first semester. The staff members of the office realize that choosing a major and a career path is a process that requires reflection on values, preferences, interests, and skills, and they have the tools to help you with that process. Whether it’s through job shadowing, informational interviewing, self-assessment, or simply discovering what career possibilities are available with each degree, the office is there to help you find out what career or major best suits you. To make an appointment, send an e-mail to email@example.com, call 610-282-1100 x1738, or visit the office in Dooling 121.
Undeclared students are also paired with an academic advisor who has been trained to meet their needs. From the moment they begin their journey at DeSales, these advisors work one-on-one with students to help them choose classes, stay on track to graduate in four years, and determine a career path.
Finally, in addition to academic advisors and staff members in the Career Services Office, our other faculty and staff members are often available to talk with or listen to students when they are uncertain. Students will make connections with these individuals through classroom interactions and campus-sponsored events, as well as through the types of informal interactions that can only take place in a small, family-oriented community like DeSales University.
Officially Declaring a Major
Once a decision has been made, students can declare a major by following the procedures that are outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. View a summary of the procedures to declare a major.