Sep 132011
Authors: Sarah Fenton

For some students, finding the right major can be a little like chasing a rabbit down the rabbit hole.
According to Carmel Hill, an undeclared student advisor, it is often taxing and sometimes even frustrating to find the right fit.

“The thing I hear from undeclared students sometimes is that it’s stressful to be in a dorm where everyone else is very sure of what they are wanting to study,” Hill said. “For undeclared students to respect their own process and realize that, ‘I am being brave and I am looking into all my options’ that can be a lot of pressure for them.”

About one-third of CSU students come in as undeclared students and are given three semesters or 45 credits to declare his or her major, Hill said.

While some undeclared students are less in tune with what their interests may be, others seem to grapple with multiple interests.

“I think people look at undeclared students as people who are lost or who don’t know what they are doing or less driven or unmotivated, and that’s not the case at all,” said Kim Ferguson, president of the Undeclared Leadership Counsel. “It’s probably more the opposite. It’s that they’ve got too many interests, or they can’t narrow it down.”

This 45-credit time constraint typically gives students a year and a half to discover their interests and find their major. This time period also often becomes a period of self-discovery for many undeclared students.

“The process is so personal. The process of exploring is going to be different for every student,” Hill said. “The self reflection, and the research, and the networking that they do actually puts them ahead of students who come in declared.”

Hill suggests to the 297 students she advises, and anybody else looking into different majors, to become acquainted with different parts of themselves. Students should know as much about their interests, abilities, talents and skills to more readily know what the best options are.

In addition to multiple appointments she gives specific instructions to each student to complete. These include interviews with family and friends and utilizing online tools and resources located in the Career Center.

Although for the most part exploring majors and finding the right match applies to undeclared majors, according to Hill, these resources are available to everyone because changing a major is as common as declaring one.

“Half of students who come in declared switch majors anyway; so, most of the student body is doing some sort of exploring process,” Hill said.

“I based picking my English major off of the reasons why I love to read and write; and so, I was considering changing it because I don’t know what I can do with it other than teaching,” said freshmen Kate Lythgoe.

Outside of her advisor role, Hill works closely with Ferguson on the Undeclared Leadership Counsel where together, along side 15 other members, they represent the undeclared student population at CSU.

The ULC invites anyone who is currently an undeclared major or has been in the past to come and drop in on their biweekly meetings.

Collegian writer Sarah Fenton can be reached at

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