How to choose from more than 60 majors

Isabel London chose Integrated Education Studies as her major. Photo by Julien Khvang


Whether they discover a subject they love or commit to one they’re familiar with, Chapman’s undeclared students have until the end of their sophomore year to choose a major.

Of the 7,020 undergraduate students who enrolled in the fall, 343 were undeclared, outnumbering enrollment to both the Attallah College of Educational Studies and School of Pharmacy.

Undeclared Academic Advisor Shannon Baker reveals why students are undecisive.

“The main reason students tend to be undeclared is they either don’t know what they want to major in or they are hesitant to make a commitment,” Baker said.

“Actively exploring” is the method Baker recommends for anyone seeking a major. This could mean a multitude of things according to her:

  • Talking to classmates and professors
  • Googling and poking around the internet
  • Exploring classes you might have interests in
  • Joining clubs
  • Doing informational interviews with professionals in related fields
  • Doing an internship

Her whole life, sophomore Isabel London was told that she would make a great teacher. She didn’t want to be doing something just because others wanted her to, so the prospect was brushed aside. However, curiosity dropped her in an integrated educational studies class, where she realized what others had seen in her.

“When I started to meet IES majors, I knew I wanted to be one,” London said.

Other students like sophomore Aly Carly had one too many interests, torn between graphic design and strategic and corporate communications.

“I was always leaning more towards graphic design. I have more experience with it,” Carly said.

A discussion with her parents helped ease the decision-making process, as she eventually chose graphic design.

Parents, while often full of suggestions, aren’t always right according to Baker.

“Sometimes there is conflict between what the student wants to pursue and what the parent/guardian wishes them to pursue,” Baker said.

Led astray by his parents’ advice was senior Matthew Schuab.

“My dad was an engineering student, so he was pushing me towards that,” said Schuab.

He quickly decided that engineering wasn’t for him and switched to computer science by the end of his freshman year.

Most undeclared students choose a major during their second or third semester, says one study published by the Education Resources Information Center. Though, this isn’t always the case.

“Sometimes students can’t and don’t decide by the end of their sophomore year. If a student accumulates 60 plus credits and is still undeclared, the registrar’s office places a hold on the student’s account, forbidding them to register for classes,” Baker said. “This is done in the best interest of the student because Chapman doesn’t want anyone accumulating excessive credit without a clear picture of where they are heading.”

Julien Khvang

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