Thinking About Your Major
The purpose of this worksheet is to help you figure out how to articulate for yourself and others your educational goals and your reasons for choosing a major. Some of the questions will apply as you consider many possible majors, other apply more as you prepare to declare a particular major. As you work through these questions, continue to discuss your plans with your adviser and anyone else you think might be helpful.
There are no right answers to these questions, only your own answers. For you these might not even be all the right questions! If other questions arise that seem to you to be equally important, write them down as well.
- Do you have questions about the world that you want to find ways to answer? Are there topics or issues you are concerned about? What courses seem to offer paths to some of these interests?
- Why does the college require students to have a major? What is “good” about expertise?
- What major(s) were you considering when you began at St. Olaf? Has that changed? Why? Have you considered the interdisciplinary program majors or concentrations as well as the departmental majors?
- What kind of study satisfies you best? Reading – analyzing – discussing – experimenting – creating? Which other students do you enjoy working with or talking about things important to you?
Other questions to clarify your choice of a major:
What could you do with your major? Can you imagine a senior level project that would use the tools and knowledge you have acquired in the major to accomplish something you think is important?
How would you explain your major to other students, your family, a faculty member, your summer employer, a favorite high school teacher?
- As you plan course work for your junior and senior years, consider:
- Will you fulfill most of your GE requirements by the end of your sophomore year? If not, what will remain? Are there courses that will cover GE requirements and fit into one or more majors?
- Which departments or programs are you considering as possible majors? Have you done introductory level work in those areas?
- Do you plan to take a semester, interim, or year in an off-campus program? How will that experience connect with your major?
- Are you planning to include one or more internships or independent study/research projects in your studies? What would your ideal independent experience be like?
- You will probably want a faculty member from your major as your academic advisor during your junior and senior years. Consider:
- Would you want to continue with your current advisor?
- What area of your chosen major are you most interested in? Is there a faculty member whose area of specialty matches your interest?
- With whom do you think you can work successfully? Will that person be on campus during both your junior and senior years?
One other thing to think about:
Do you know how to find library materials relevant to your area of study? What resources are available for projects or research in your major? What are the best sources to find materials in your area? What is available on campus? Have you had an “information literacy” session yet as part of any class?
The Center for Integrative Studies primarily works with students interested in the Individual Major option, but also advises any students who want to explore planning a major. Students may submit a proposal for an Individual Major anytime between the fall of their sophomore year and January of their junior year. For more information, please visit the Center for Integrative Studies website.