For Salt Lake Community College student Kourtney Francom, the squeeze is on.
Francom, like many SLCC students, hasn’t picked a major. As the semesters pass by without a decision, the pressure for her to make a choice becomes stronger.
“I have been in college for three semesters and I am feeling pressure when it comes to selecting a specific area of study to focus on,” Francom said. “I just can’t quite decide. I guess I don’t really know what choices I have.”
Francom is not the only one who struggles to define her major. Many students have a hard time with the ongoing struggle to define their main interest and determine a major that best correlates with that interest.
It’s not just a simple matter of choosing a favorite and going with it. Non-academic obligations and even logistical factors must be considered as well.
“It is rare to have a student who is actually settled on a major! Most students change often,” wrote sociology instructor Daniel Poole in an e-mail interview. “The exception is students who are in applied or technical track programs such as dental hygiene.”
Students who are enrolled in general education courses can use the knowledge gained from those courses to help narrow down their preferred career list. Once a student has earned a degree, his or her specific career choices could come from avenues of study not necessarily related to applied or technical track programs.
“One important purpose of general ed is to expose students to many different academic fields while helping to teach them what possibilities can be pursued and why,” Poole wrote.
Many students take an open-minded stance when it comes to class options so as to explore a wide variety of topics. Even as tuition rates rise, students find the obligation to further their education is just that – an obligation.
“There are options available to students to help them as they seek a major,” said Joann Thomas, general education advisor at SLCC. “Everything from websites that enable the student to complete surveys about themselves in order to determine his or her own characteristics to pamphlets and even a career course at our school entitled LE1200, which is a career exploration class.”
For students who struggle with determining a major, their efforts will not be squandered. Formal and informal educations serve as outlets for broadening student minds.
“I’m glad to be in college, and I will decide on a major down the road,” Francom said. “But for now, I will just focus on the general ed classes.”