Undecided About Your Major? Talk to the Faculty!

In my blog post last week, I pondered students’ questions about selecting a major and gave an overview of steps to take to make this decision. So, let’s say you’ve narrowed your choices down and now are looking at a few subjects that really interest you. Your next step is to meet with one or more of the faculty teaching the subjects you are considering to gain their perspective on the major. This can be an informative and even enjoyable process if you know what to ask!

 Step 1. Who should you talk to?

  • Are you taking a class in one of the subjects you are interested in finding more about? You could start with your current professor.
  • Find out who the faculty advisor is for the department you are interested in and make an appointment to talk to her or him.
  • Ask your academic advisor for a contact in each department.                                                                                                   

Step 2. Make the appointment

Find contact information for faculty members on schools’ wepbages or, in case of CAS, by department on the CAS webpage. Send an e-mail or call the office to ask for 20-30 minute informational interview.  

 Step 3. Ask smart questions. These are some questions to help get you started:

1. How did you get into your discipline?

2. What is this discipline all about?

3. What can I do with a degree in this discipline?    

4. What are your alumni doing now?

5. What are your research interests? What are the research interests of others in the department?

6. How does this discipline fit in with other disciplines?

7. What can a 1st year student expect in this discipline? 2nd year? 3rd year? 4th year?

8. What are the courses like? Are they mostly seminar or lecture?

9. What are the exams like (in general)? Are they mostly essays or more multiple choice?

10. Will I need to continue on to Graduate school in this discipline?

11. What kinds of internships are possible?

 Don’t limit yourself! Think of other questions to ask and make sure you find out if there are any others in the department who would be helpful to talk to. You may want to start off by explaining what interests you about the major and what your personal interests are so the faculty member has a better idea of who you are as in person. Above all – relax and find out as much as possible! Don’t forget to thank the faculty for their time and advice. Send an e-mail, or even better, write a thank you card and bring it to the office.

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