Central Michigan University students are taking less time than ever to sign their majors in a continuing trend.
As of Sept. 26, 59.4 percent of undergraduate students have signed a major, up from 45.9 percent in 2003 and from 34.4 percent in 2000.
Freshman students typically have the lowest signage figures, at only 1.3 percent of the 3,903 freshman students enrolled this year.
“It is common for students to have an interest in a particular major and want to complete a few courses before making a firm decision to sign the major,” Director of Student Success Jason Bentley said.
Many students come to campus undecided in what they want to study. To help, the university tries to offer diverse courses so they can test the waters and see if anything sparks their interest.
“We hope students take a variety of courses from many different disciplines, especially to complete the (University Program) requirements,” Registrar Karen Hutslar said. “This way, they may discover they have an interest in an area they had never considered before and decide to major in that area.”
Students are also recommended to speak with academic advisers early on in their college career so they know how to approach signing a major.
“For some students, they may not be aware of the steps involved or the process for meeting with a faculty advisor to review and sign a major plan,” Bentley said.
While students do have time to decide on what they want to study, there are advantages to signing majors early on in a college career.
“Signing your major early is not signing your life away,” anthropology professor Laura Cochrane said. “It allows you to take the introduction level courses so you can move on to the electives that you’re more interested in. It also allows you more time to explore different options within the program.”
Some colleges have an application processes to be accepted into their programs. This makes it even more important for students to sign early on.
“In the social work program, it’s helpful if students come in early because it’s a program that requires an application and we have our own degree,” said Social Work Program Director Susan Grettenberger. “On the other hand, even if students don’t sign early, they can still start, even if they’re a little behind.”
For students who are having trouble deciding on a major, CMU provides tools to help in making a decision.
Lynne L’Hommedieu, the academic advisor for transfer students living off-campus, said there are courses, events and people who can help them choose.
“(Students) can meet with an advisor or someone in Career Services,” she said. “We also have a one-credit career and self exploration class that they can take. What I tell students is that this is a thought process. It takes time to make a decision.”
Bentley said that while students should be decisive, picking a major should not be made in haste.
“Part of the college experience involves exploring and either realizing or refining an academic major,” Bentley said. “While it is critically important for a student to select a major, it is just as important that this decision is made with understanding of the requirements and, ideally, a passion for the specific discipline or subject.”
All students are required to have signed their major by the end of their sophomore year.
University Editor Kyle Kaminski contributed to this report.