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Part 1 The Myths and Realities of Choosing a Major

MYTH #1: Most students enter college "decided" about their major.

REALITY: Colleges and universities nationwide have revealed that many students begin their college careers unsure about their major, with 20-50% of entering students declaring themselves as "undecided" and up to 80% expressing that they are uncertain about their choice. Nearly 60% of students change their major at least one time!

MYTH #2: It is better to declare a major than be "undecided."

REALITY: Exploring various majors can be extremely positive. Pre-major or "exploratory" students may be more open-minded, willing to consider options, and eager to learn new things. Allowing yourself time for exploration and careful investigation of the academic programs that are available to you is key to finding the major that best suits you. Please remember, however, that a student will need to be accepted into a major upon completion of 60 credit hours. If you are approaching 60 credit hours and are undecided about a major, please see an academic advisor to discuss any academic or financial implications.

MYTH #3: There is only one major that will allow me to reach my goal.

REALITY: There are over 150 areas of study available at UCM. Many similar majors can enable you to develop the necessary skills to prepare you for similar work environments or graduate programs. There are also several UCM degree options for students to combine their interests. For example, students may pursue a special major, double major, joint major, double degree, or a combined degree. In addition, UCM offers several certification programs which can be completed along with a major.

MYTH #4: An academic major ties you to a specific career path.

REALITY: While some majors strongly relate to career options (e.g., nursing, engineering), other majors are less related (e.g., history, political science, sociology). Remember that the principal qualities employers are looking for in potential employees are skills, rather than subject matter. In college, it is important to acquire marketable skills, such as problem solving, written and oral communication, interpersonal communication, the ability to work in groups, and sensitivity to other cultures.

MYTH #5: Students majoring in the arts, humanities, or social sciences are either not qualified for any job (e.g., what do you do with a degree in philosophy?), or are only qualified for careers in those specific areas (e.g., philosopher).

REALITY: Liberal arts majors can find meaningful work in business, research, human resources, teaching, the military, and various other occupations. Liberal arts majors can also prepare students for many graduate or professional schools (e.g., law school, medical school). The specific skills that you develop may be more important than particular degrees. When choosing a major, it is best to consider what skills your undergraduate education will help you to develop.

MYTH #6: I'll just take all of my General Education Requirements first.

REALITY: While UCM's General Education Requirements allow students to explore a variety of fields and disciplines, it is not recommended that students solely concentrate on completing these requirements first. Not every general education requirement is applicable toward a possible major. Additionally, the requirements do not necessarily provide students with the opportunity to take courses in majors that they are thinking of pursuing. Every major at UCM also requires that students complete a prescribed set of courses to gain admittance into the major and students need to have a plan as to how they can get these courses completed. Therefore, it is important to meet with an academic advisor  to gain assistance in selecting appropriate courses.

Adapted from Ten Myths of Choosing a Major, Loyola University Chicago