By Alizabeth Gaddie, Assistant Director of the Advising and Academic Support Center
Nearly 80% of Boise State students change their major at least once throughout their time in college. Approximately 50% of them do so within the first year. We share these numbers to let you know that you are not alone in wondering how to support your student in their major change. Changing majors is common as students learn new things about themselves, navigate through their interests, identify new abilities, and develop goals for their future.
Whether your student changes from one major to another or spends some time undeclared, support is available at Boise State and it’s all going to be okay. Many students will feel huge pressure from peers and others to declare a major. Having supportive family members is helpful.
There are benefits to being undeclared for a short time. Students have a chance to examine themselves and reflect on who they are, leading to greater self-knowledge, which in turn leads to more accurate, confident, and intentional major selection. They also have time to go through the degree options at Boise State that they might not have known before. All of this lessens the chance of your student finding out years into a degree that they do not enjoy or have a career plan for their intended major.
Questions to ask your student:
- What do you find yourself gravitating toward in your personal time?
- What makes you happiest when you do it?
Focus less on what jobs you see your student doing as a career. This can be confusing to students as they may not have the same life experiences you do (yet) and may not have a solid idea what certain careers involve. Therefore, focus more on the skills you believe they have that can be applied to multiple careers. This way your student can focus on finding careers that fit their abilities and skills, along with interests, and lead to more success in major selection.
To ensure your student is on track to graduation and aware of new requirements, encourage them to meet with an academic advisor in their new major once they have made the change.