Step 2: Explore Majors, Minors & Certificates
In University Division (UD), we prefer to use the word “Exploratory” to define a student who has yet to make final decisions about a major, minor, and/or certificate. Exploring is a smart way to begin because IUB has so much to offer! University Division encourages all students to explore the many options available at IUB and choose the major and other academic and extracurricular programs that best fit their goals. Like any other learning experience, exploring takes some work, but it can be fun too!
Most students will either begin or will become Exploratory. According to national research, each academic year 20-25% of all new college students begin their first term undecided about their major. Additionally, of the students who enter with a declared major, 50-60% change their minds in their first year at college. That is, in the United States each year approximately 70-85% of all new college students are, or will become, Exploratory. The statistics at IUB are almost exactly the same as the national statistics every year. Exploratory is much more common than you might think!
Planning Your First Year
With planning, you can begin as Exploratory and graduate in the traditional four-year timeframe. UD advisors can help you choose classes that will allow you to explore your interests while also satisfying degree requirements for the majors you are exploring. To prepare for your orientation advising meeting, make a list of the majors and courses that interest you. We will focus on majors here, but keep in mind that most academic disciplines that offer a major, also offer a minor or certificate.
Resources you will need are on the UD First Steps webpages:
- The Academic Planning Worksheet (APW) and possibly also some extra paper.
- The list of majors and the list of minors and certificates (link to these lists) offered at IUB.
- Course descriptions
Scan the list of majors and the list of minors and certificates offered at IUB. Write down the ones you find interesting. An optional fun exercise is to print the entire alphabetical list and cross off the ones you do not find interesting. Narrow down the list to those you find most interesting.
For each major that interests you, make some notes on the APW and/or your extra paper.
- Read the information about the major. Write a little about what catches your interest and questions you want to ask.
- Find the recommended first courses for the major and read the course descriptions. List the courses you would like to take.
- Since all students regardless of their major must satisfy the IUB General Education requirements, it will be useful to note which of the courses on your list are Arts and Humanities (A&H), Social and Historical Studies (S&H), Natural and Mathematical Sciences (N&M), World Cultures (WC), or World Language (WL). The course descriptions will tell you if the course is an IUB Gen Ed. The APW is set up to help you organize courses into these categories.
You can take a course to help you explore! ASCS-Q 294 Basic Career Development is taught by the Career Development Center at IUB to help first year students explore majors and careers. Read the course description for ASCS-Q 294 and add this course to your list if you think you might like to take it.
During your first year, your UD advisor will help you explore majors. If you would like to begin some more in-depth exploration now, go to the Explore Majors website and read about the majors, minors, and certificates you find most interesting. Notice on this site you can search for majors by interest, alphabetically, or by school. Keep notes for yourself and write down your questions to discuss with your advisor.
Benefits of Exploring
Exploring will help you find a major that is a good fit for you. But also in the process of exploring you will develop skills and knowledge that will be useful to you as you make further decisions about your education, career and personal life. The benefits include:
- A broader educational background and foundation
- Self-knowledge of interests, values, and skills
- Setting goals and priorities
- Planning and preparation
- Research and information-gathering
- Utilizing appropriate supports and resources
- Making personal and professional connections with faculty, staff, and peers
University Division provides a structure of support that you can use to gain these skills and in turn build an educational experience at IUB that meets your goals.
If you have any questions before you come to Bloomington, please use your IU email account to contact us at email@example.com.