Advising Students Who Are Undeclared
Advising a freshman or sophomore who has not declared a major requires special skill. These students will usually want and need guidance on deciding a program of study at Siena. Consider the term sometimes used to describe this population - Undecided - which suggests an inability to choose, maybe even weakness. The term Undeclared suggests exploration and openness to options. Remember, there are also different levels of being undecided.
Successful exploration strategies vary. Advisors can use their own experience and knowledge of college resources to help students give themselves permission to take the time to explore options. Challenging students to consider what their interests really are and what they have a passion for can encourage this journey of self discovery. Examples you can offer include suggesting courses, volunteer opportunities, speaking with professors in other departments and the Career Center.
One rule is cardinal: we must let the students decide for themselves. It is neither our responsibility nor our right to push them in a specific direction. Obviously, it requires some finesse to offer support without putting subtle pressure on students to pursue the course of study that we might think would be worthwhile for them. We can avoid this pitfall by doing as much listening as possible, and by stressing our role as resource persons.
Theoretically, a student can change from any one major at the College to any other. Of course, this will be impacted by GPA and number of credits completed. The Student Success & Academic Advising Center can assist advisors working with Undeclared students. Contact Holly M. Cheverton for assistance.