Ole Miss Family Association

University of Mississippi

Majors, Minors and Making Decisions

Most college students face the decision about a major early in their college career. Some students will choose to wait to make a decision for a year or more, while others arrive at orientation knowing full well how the next four or five years will be spent in the classroom.

As a college parent, you may worry about your student’s decision. How will he or she make a decision about a major? Should your student pursue a minor? What if your student changes his or her mind? What resources are available?

Choosing a Major

Many students enter college as “undeclared,” which simply means that they are keeping their options open. In fact, the largest cohort of entering freshmen is undeclared, so being unsure of a major is common.

As a parent, helping your student to be comfortable with his or her “undeclared” status is a good first step. Next, help your student understand how he or she will go about making a decision.

The University of Mississippi requires that students choose a major by the time 45 credit hours have been achieved. Suggest that your student talks to an academic adviser. The Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, or CSSFYE, offers professional advising to all undeclared students. A professional academic adviser will guide your student through taking courses that fit his or her interests to help in choosing a major.

In addition, the CSSFYE offers EDLD 201 “Career Decision Making” each spring semester. EDLD 201 focuses on helping undeclared students realize their strengths, as well as possible career paths. The course is broken down into several modules, including Introduction, Self-Assessment, World of Work Research, Career Outlook from majors offered by our university and Academic Advising through the transition phase.

Changing Majors

Students entering college often think they have a clear idea of their major. Many of these students later realize that their chosen major is not a good match. Don’t panic! Studies suggest that as many as 80 percent of college students change their major at least once. Talk to your student about the reason for wanting to change majors, and suggest that he or she works closely with an academic adviser. Having a plan of action and a timeline toward graduation is important.

Minor or Double Major

Some students have difficulty narrowing their focus and choosing a single major. One option for students with multiple interests may be to consider a double major. Two majors may complement each other, or one may satisfy a student’s head while another satisfies the heart.

A double major may not necessarily be twice the work of a single major. Oftentimes, some courses or requirements overlap. Regardless, a double major will require coordination and time management. Your student may need to make some sacrifices to get everything done.

Adding a minor requires less work (typically 18 hours) than a double major but can help your student develop a unique background and skill set. Choosing a minor may take some stress away from the decision about a major because your student doesn’t need to abandon a second area of interest. A minor can contribute depth and breadth to your student’s education.