Don’t stress about college major choices

Sarah Gonzalez

Deciding on a major can be stressful, especially with more than 100 options available. However, there are popular options for incoming students who haven’t figured out exactly what they want to study.

More than 20 percent of students entering Iowa State haven’t decided on a major. The university makes accommodations for all types of students, including those who don’t know how to reach their career goals, are talented in multiple areas or just don’t know what to do with their lives.

Those students can choose to be undeclared in one of the six colleges: agriculture and life sciences, business, design, engineering, human sciences or liberal arts and sciences. If they haven’t decided which college their chosen major will fall under, they can choose to be open option. An open option student is assigned an adviser that will help guide him or her to appropriate courses.

“One of the hallmarks of the program is that it’s very individualized,” said Jane Jacobson, director of LAS student academic services.

Jacobson said students should tell their advisers everything that might interest them, this way they can direct students to courses that will better serve their future career goals.

Career counseling, career fairs and learning communities are also ways to help narrow down the choices. Open option students are required to take LAS 101, which is an orientation to the college’s majors. LAS 104, which focuses on career explorations, is not required but can be a good tool for undecided students.

Many undecided students are worried about graduating on time, but 50 percent of students entering open option choose a major by the end of their first year. The majority of open option students don’t graduate any later than the rest of the student body, or between four and four and a half years.

The trend for the next generation of incoming college students is to choose combination majors. Open option students can use the first couple of semesters to decide which multidimensional facets will be included in their future.

“Sit back, explore. You’re at a big university, take advantage of it,” Jacobson said.