Patience Dolo came to UMD as an undeclared major. She is now a Sociology major.
Each year, approximately 700 first-year students come to UMD without declaring a major. For those who are unsure about what path they should take, there are a variety of ways to explore the possibilities. Michele Hatcher, UMD’s advising services coordinator for undeclared students, provides information and resources that will help undeclared students find their true calling. In addition, several UMD colleges, College of Education and Human Services (CEHSP), College of Liberal Arts (CLA), and Swenson College of Science and Engineering (SCSE), provide guidance.
Advising Services Help the Undeclared
Hatcher assists students in finding a major that truly fits them. This includes helping students identify their personal strengths and interests and encouraging them to research different majors. "Undeclared students may begin their search at slightly different points," Hatcher said. "We think of the process as COMPASS: Combine Opportunities to Meet Personal, Academic, and Student Success. UMD's compass metaphor can be used as a guide as students navigate their major and career path, because each experience will help them eliminate or confirm their direction."
In addition to meeting with Hatcher, as well as other professional academic advisors and career counselors, students are encouraged to talk with UMD professors, attend the Major and Minor Fair offered each fall, and enroll in career and major exploration courses.
These classes help UMD students to find their direction and think about what personally inspires and drives them. In Hatcher's sections of CLA1001: Learning Community Seminar, students are asked to interview at least three people. They can choose a professor, an upper-class student, a community member, or a family member to determine how individuals made decisions about a career path. Results show that people choose their path in different ways. It is an individual decision based on interests, values, personality, lifestyle, strengths and preference.
One Student's Success
During fall 2007, when Patience Dolo entered her freshman year, she didn't have a career in mind. Now a junior, she has declared her major as Sociology and says, “I am content with my chosen major.”
Before making the decision, she knew one thing: she wanted to work with people. Many of her friends suggested a Human Resources career. "They kept telling me that I would be good at it, and I didn't know what else to do so I just declared the major so I would have one," Dolo said.
However, something didn't sit right as she began her Human Resources coursework. Dolo found herself gravitating to social science courses. Ultimately, she learned to be mindful of her own interests rather than be influenced by others. Dolo is now looking forward to the opportunity to work with children and applying what she has learned during internship placements supported through her Sociology major.
Choosing Your Path
Advising Services at UMD provides an opportunity for students to learn more about themselves, explore their options, and gather information by using UMD's resources. These resources enable students to make informed choices before making the decision about their college major. After utilizing these resources, National Academic Advising Association reports that undeclared students are happier with their major once they choose it. In addition, national statistics also show that the likelihood of graduation is higher for students who begin their college education as undeclared.
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