Skip to main content

Exploratory/Undecided Majors

UCAC advisors have received specialized training designed to develop their helping skills, knowledge of online resources, occupational information, and trends. Additionally, UCAC Advisors gain overarching information on the undergraduate curriculum in order to recommend courses that are acceptable for various majors in areas of interest. Continuous training includes networking with college advisors to remain abreast of all UNM majors and staff development each semester which focuses on skills needed to work with Exploratory/Undecided populations.

UCAC advisors normalize the decision to be Exploratory/Undecided and partner with students in their exploration of interests and hopes for the future. Advising sessions are not answer driven, but rather question driven. Advisors offer resources and tools for students to research interests. We stress students gain skills sought by employers rather than solely focus our discussions on majors. There is intentional thoughtfulness in searching and researching likes and dislikes, thus UCAC advisors empower students on a path to select a major.

University College believes that Exploratory/Undecided students should have at least three semesters of exploration allowing time to find areas of strong interest. The time exploring is productive so a student graduates at, or without greatly exceeding, 120 credit hours with coursework applying toward their eventual major. We believe that rushing or pressuring students to decide on a major before they are ready can result in frustration and poor course selection.

Three Semester Plan

A deliberate advising strategy by semester can help students accomplish their goal and is laid out as follows:

  • Discuss Math and English placement
  • Recommend delaying science core if not interested in STEM-H
  • Recommend an Academic Community of interest or UNIV 101
  • Select Core courses based on interest
    • Explain that Core is an exploratory tool
    • Cover that Core classes can be a foundation that builds a major
    • Core classes can be a means for finding their passion
    • Taking Core classes can keep them on track toward graduation
  • Rule out options based on dislikes
  • Gauge where on the Exploratory/Undecided scale they are
  • Encourage an elective of interest and explain that it can be used for a major or minor
  • Normalize being Exploratory/Undecided
  • Consider and rule out areas absolutely not interested in using the UNM Degrees site
  • Ask “What have you considered?”
    • Explore those areas
    • Give a sense that they are working toward something by focusing on interests
  • Go over Career Services’ “What can I do with a Major” site
  • Select Core classes based on interest (See Semester 1 for strategies)
  • Ask “What have you learned this semester?”
    • Find activities, such as workshops, seminars, courses, that were of interest in semester 1
  • Reassure that they still have time to explore
    • Coursework thus far is productive
    • Those with chosen majors are not yet in their coursework either
    • All second semester freshmen are taking Core courses
    • Since they aren’t tied to a major, they have the freedom to choose courses and have many options
  • Assign homework regarding their exploration
  • Refer to Career Services for
    • Finding jobs in area of interest
    • Summer internships
    • Shadowing professionals
    • For assessments and sessions with a Career Development Facilitator (CDF)
  • Discuss industries
    • Types of jobs within (e.g. health care)
    • Skills needed vs. majors needed
  • Start with career of interest then what major(s) can get them there
  • Ask results from Semester 2 homework
  • Visit departments or programs of interest
  • Talk to professionals in careers of interest
    • Shadowing
    • Informational Interviews
    • Volunteering
  • Recommend courses in areas in which they are leaning or have done well in

There are a few degree plans based on areas of interest.

Exploratory/Undecided Students - Myth vs Reality

There are many misconceptions about Exploratory/Undecided majors. Click here to read about commonly held myths.