Choosing a major in college is the first step to setting a career path. For some students, this task is much more daunting than for others – which leads to taking too long to declare a major and ultimately delaying graduation.
Originally, students had a 60 unit grace period before they were required to declare a field of study. However, President Alexander Gonzalez said in a memo that this expectation is outdated because students are not necessarily taking 15 units each semester.
With fewer units being taken, students could be in their third year before having to declare a major. This amount of leeway is too much and it is time for a change.
According to the Office of Institutional Research, data suggests a drop in the percentage of degrees completed in six years, if the student had not declared a major within four semesters.
Many students have said the biggest pressures they faced when choosing a major were the time constraints – constraints on choosing a major, not changing majors too far into school and societal pressures to earn a degree in four years.
Other pressures students expressed were coming from family members. Many parents have hopes and expectations their children will follow in their career footsteps. On the flip side, students are also pressured to claim a more difficult major so they can “do better” than their parents.
The issue of shortening the time a student is allotted for choosing a major raises other issues as well. It must be put into consideration there are special circumstances for why students wait to claim or change their major after two years: transfer students, adding a second major, financial aid and more.
Special circumstances aside, students should have some idea of the direction they want to go in before entering a university.
Not all of us have our dream career picked out as high school students, but most of us have an inkling of what we would be good at post-graduation. For those who have not narrowed down the immense amount of options available for a major, attending a community college first, may be the way to go.
Students can attend community colleges to complete their general education requirement for much cheaper than two years of tuition at a state university, while also finding out what subjects they would or would not consider for a major.
President Gonzalez seems optimistic about the proposed changes, but some still have reservations.
Students face pressures in the collegiate world every day, not including being part of the working world simultaneously. These proposed changes, however, are not designed to put more pressure on students to declare a major, but to encourage them to narrow down their fields of interest so choosing a major isn’t so daunting.
Because at the end of the day, we all would like to graduate in a relatively timely manner.