Changing or Exploring Majors

Is your student exploratory or undecided about their future?  If your student changes his or her mind about a major, be willing to listen to and help them work through their reasons why.  It may be they are worried that a particular course will be too challenging, or that they want a different focus or concentration within the same school or department. They may have also heard about a new field that they want to explore.  So don’t hit the panic button when you hear, “I want to change my major.”  Instead, ask, “What made you change your mind?” and then let them talk to you.

Talk about student’s values, interests, personality, and skills rather than pushing a certain major or career. Before they look at “what’s out there,” they need to think about and talk about “what’s inside me.”

When you hear:

-          “I want _________ in my life (Values), ask:  "how important is ________that to you?" 

-          “I love to__” or “I am passionate about__” (Interests), ask: “what makes it so good?”

-          “I am _____” or “I am a ____ person” (Personality), ask:   “how does that show up in your actions?”

-          “I am good at___” or “I have a knack for____” or “I have mastered____” (Skills), ask for a story or example to illustrate it.  

Point out what your student does well and how those skills can be used in a career.  Skills can come from any area where your student has attempted something and succeeded:  coursework, extracurricular or community projects, or a part-time job, as well as personal hobbies.  They can develop or deepen those through their college experience.

Encourage your student to try different jobs and explore as many options as possible.  Sometimes they will need to shift from their steady-but-not-relevant job and try one that’s related to what they want to major in.  As much as possible given finances and logistics, support them with this.  It will help in the long run as well as in the moment.

Encourage your student to get involved in campus life, to attend career fairs and events. Nearly every month and even most weeks, something is going on in the Campus Center or one of the schools to promote career awareness and student engagement.  Their coursework helps them with the foundation, but their experiences help build a solid place from which to grow personally and professionally.

Give your student time and space to learn from his or her choices.  Keep both an open mind and an open line of communication!

Give them our contact information if they need further assistance.  We will be happy to help them explore their options and provide information on how to move forward with their decisions.

UC 3004a    317-274-4856   advising@iupui.edu  acd.iupui.edu