Thursday, October 16, 2014

Haley's Tip of the Week: How I Found My Major

Hey guys! My name is Haley and I am a Peer Advisor with Undergraduate Advising. I am happy to be of assistance to you and to answer your questions any time! Settling into my first few months as a senior at UMass, I often find myself reflecting. So, this week I wanted to share with you my story of how I found my major.
I came into UMass as a timid, but eager, undeclared student. Right from the start, I had a great foundation of support. I was part of the Focus Connections undeclared RAP (Residential Academic Program) and was also enrolled in the fall OASIS seminar. I found that living with all undeclared students gave me a real sense of comradery, I loved that I was able to meet new people who were in the same situation as me. OASIS was also a great opportunity for me because I was able to meet and be in consistent contact with my academic advisor.

However, even with all of that support I still felt confused, overwhelmed, and a little bewildered at all of the options that UMass had to offer. Coming from a small high school, I was used to one-on-one attention from guidance counselors and teachers. UMass was a whole new world for me and I actually expected my advisor to consider my interests and simply tell me what to do, just like high school. I soon realized that no one was going to decide this for me or tell me what to do. I had to be my own advocate for my interests and academic goals.

I think my first official move in the right direction was after my first Res-Econ class. After about 20 minutes I knew that it was not the right class or direction for me. Walking out, I realized that the only reason I was in the class was to appease my family's wishes. I wanted to make my family proud but came to the realization that this was my education and that I had to pursue what I was actually interested in and not what they wanted me to be interested in. After class I went to 613 Goodell and spoke to an advisor during drop-in hours. After talking about my interests we decided that Linguistics 101 would be a great class for me to try. Three years later, it is still my favorite gen-ed!

But I still had a lot of work to do! I knew I wanted to work with children and with my advisor's help, I eventually narrowed my options down to Psychology and Communication Disorders. I knew that either of these two majors would allow me to work and make a difference with children in the future. In following year, I took introductory courses in both majors along with speaking to their department heads. I gathered as much information as I could before making my final decision.In the middle of my fall semester of my sophomore year I felt ready to declare. I pulled the trigger and declared Communication Disorders with minors in Psychology and Education.

Of course, everyone's situation is unique and different but hopefully mine can give you some insight into yours! Just remember a few key things and everything will fall into place:

  • Meet with your advisor regularly and come prepared with questions!
  • Follow your interests!
  • Become aware of your options!  Do your homework!
  • Remember all of the resources available to you... and use them!

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