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Furthermore, Tiedeman’s decision-making process argues that after the exploratory phase is the crystallization period (as cited in Harren, 1976).
Here the student can begin making progress toward a decision but does not actually make one.
Therefore, truly assisting students make well-informed life choices will require systemic changes in institutional structures and processes.
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To do this, there would need to be a structured course or program during the first year, and a total intake academic advising model should be incorporated in which students in their first year receive advising from an objective, central advising office and it is not until the second year that students will be advised within a specific academic discipline, such as with a faculty adviser (King, 2008).
A structure such as this may offer first-year students career assessments, personal research opportunities in areas of study, job shadow experiences, informational interviewing guidance, personal reflections writing, upper-level classes observations, and faculty interviewing.
College and university administrators have begun implementing various types of institutional resources to assist undecided students when choosing a major, but students are likely underprepared when choosing a major.
John said, “There is, perhaps, no college decision that is more thought-provoking, gut wrenching and rest-of-your-life oriented—or disoriented—than the choice of a major” (St. Ideally, a major will leave a student academically successful, as well as fulfill academic, personal, and vocational goals.
If choosing a major actually means choosing one’s goals, values, and interests based on intentional self-reflection and understanding of one’s self, then first-year students simply are not ready.
Fortunately, it is not all bad news; there are practical solutions to address this inherent disconnect, including implementing first-year programs, summer programs, career assessments, and exploratory workshops.An estimated 20 to 50 percent of students enter college as “undecided” (Gordon, 1995) and an estimated 75 percent of students change their major at least once before graduation (Gordon, 1995).When looking at the statistics, it is obvious that choosing a major has serious implications for the majority of students, not just undecided ones.Lastly, the choice of major can have a significant positive or negative effect on the student experience, affecting retention, engagement, student learning, academic standing, setting of academic and career goals, and more.For example, in a 2006 Canadian study, researchers followed 80,574 students in eighty-seven colleges during a five-year period and showed that good grades are related to having a major close to one’s personality.In the case of Waynesburg University, first-year students can delay the declaration of a major through the Major Decision Program; part of this process includes a Career and Life Planning course, as well as Discover, a computer program that allows students to learn more about possible majors, career paths, and their personal preferences (Waynesburg University, n.d.).