Document Type


Publication Date



DECIDING ON A MAJOR AT WESTERN Introduction Choosing a major has always been one of the major hurdles college students face. Currently, it may be even more problematic than usual. The decision retains its career and life planning implications, and there is some evidence that this is a time of relative indecision in this regard. Students report wanting more advising than they are getting; many report being at college without a definite idea why; there is less popular push to any one type of major than previously no 1980's panic to get into business, no 1970's stampede into professional schools, no 1960's drive to social relevance. Student fluctuations between majors is rapid and difficult to predict. As always, students change majors quite often during college, although Western faces the special difficulty that it does not influence the primary period of choice for about half its students: those who enter as transfers. At the same time, beginning a major has powerful meaning for many Western students. Previous assessment studies at Western have documented a dramatic increase in academic engagement (time spent studying; satisfaction with courses) when students move from GURs to a major. Similarly, many students feel they are not "making solid progress toward the degree" until they have chosen a major and are taking courses in the major (Simpson, Matson and Clark, forthcoming). In addition, political and economic pressures now embed each basic decision students make in a system of constraints and concerns about time-to-degree and efficient use of resources. The university has entertained the policy of requiring students to declare a major at a certain time, since delaying that choice cuts off many options because sequencing requirements cannot be met, and previous assessment studies at Western have demonstrated that delaying the major decision increases the overall time to degree as well as the number of credits accumulated on the way t








Digital object produced by Office of Survey Research, Western Washington University, and made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.


This resource is provided for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries.

Subjects - Names (LCNAF)