Advising Center helps undecided majors find their way

Rhonda Wheeler, News Editor

Some college students find it difficult to decide on a major for what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they first enter college.

The  Center for Exploring Majors is an advising center that was designed to help students who aren’t sure what they want to major in.

They advise students who have chosen not to declare a major when they enroll at USI, students who are classified as non-degree seeking or conditionally admitted students according to the university’s website

The Center provides students with many resources, one being the available advisors.

“Some of the folks have been here 10 years or more so they have a lot of experience in advising students in that major exploration process,” Director of Advising Timothy Fitzgibbon said.

Some of the other resources the Center offers include a USI Degree Check Sheet, which is offered for most majors and minors. This is a way that a student can keep track of how close they are to completing a certain degree.

“We’re kind of a temporary way station, you know for maybe a semester until they figure out which major is right,” Fitzgibbon said.

They also provide resources like a website called “What Can I Major In…?” It gives students the chance to look at their desired majors in a different way.

“We’re trying to keep them here at the university and say, okay, that major wasn’t right for you,” he said. “Let’s find an alternate one that is right for you.”

The Center had 257 students declare their major, 140 students come to their advising center from other majors and 760 students who came in for early advising during the 2018-2019 academic year. 

The Center for Exploring Majors was known as the University Division advising until changing names in June of 2018.

“The reason we did that is because I think it better reflects what our role is,” Fitzgibbon said.

Junior Social Work major Laken Miller spent almost two full years as an undecided major before declaring her major at the end of her sophomore year.

She said she met with her advisor a lot, more than most people.

“(My advisor) was able to keep me calm,” Miller said. “She kept reminding me that I would find a major and to keep trying different classes.”

Miller said it was relieving to have advisors that care about students.

It was her advisor who suggested Miller go into social work because of her interests and character. She was the one who recommended that Miller retake a test the Center offers called Career Cruising, which tests students’ interests and what they like.

Miller said she understands that coming in undecided as a freshman can be scary.

“You think you don’t really know what you’re doing but I say that it’s better to come in undecided rather than come in doing something you have your heart set on and then you realize it’s hard curriculum or it may not work out for you,” Miller said. “Because I feel like that’s a little bit more soul-crushing.”

When Mallory Cromer came to USI, she was undecided on what she wanted her major to be.

The junior communications major got a call the summer before her sophomore year about working in the Center for Exploring Majors as a peer advisor.

“I’m not 100% certain where I’m leaning towards,” she said. “It kind of scares me to make like a set decision because I don’t know what I’m going to be happy and doing.”

She said she plans on graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications and possibly pursue a master’s degree in higher education so she can become an academic advisor.

She also acknowledged that being an undecided major can be scary, but said that every advisor in the Center for Exploring Majors is willing to help the students in whatever it is they want to do.

She said that as a peer advisor, she acts as a listening ear to students who are still undecided. She helps students figure out what resources are available to them and talk to them through their ideas on what they want to do with their lives.

Senior Communications major Javontay Moss came into freshman year undecided, thinking that he would go into either elementary education or accounting. When someone suggested he come in undecided during his orientation, he had no idea what that meant.

At the end of his freshman year, he declared his major for elementary education and did a year of courses before coming back to work for the Center for Exploring Majors.

Moss talked to his former advisors about his aspirations of wanting to go into a full-time ministry position. Since there are no biblical studies classes at the university, he talked to the advisors about how he is good at talking to people.

So they were able to figure out that communication studies would be a good fit for him.

“Even though I wasn’t one of their advisees, they still helped out, which is something they do for a lot of students,” Moss said.