Advisers can be difficult when switching majors

Freshman Matthew Hedlund wants to change his major. Although still technically a biomedical engineering student, Hedlund said a required seminar has made him rethink his plans. âÄúI just sort of hopped into [biomedical engineering],âÄù Hedlund said. âÄúIâÄôm kind of floundering about it, but I have ideas.âÄù For students like Hedlund, choosing a major can be a difficult task, and although all students are assigned an academic adviser to help them through the process, some students find them both detrimental and beneficial. Sarah Steadland said she was interested in architecture but was told by her adviser that she couldnâÄôt take any classes to try it out before declaring the major. She said she decided to take pre-med courses, but soon learned it wasnâÄôt for her. Steadland met with her adviser again and was told to try double majoring in pre-med and architecture. Steadland said majoring in both would be impossible and decided to switch completely to architecture. âÄúI wish they wouldâÄôve told me that if I wanted to do architecture, I shouldâÄôve started out right away and just seen right away if I liked it,âÄù Steadland said. However, Emily Lasner , a former nursing major who switched to speech-language-hearing sciences , said her adviser helped her fill out forms and keep deadlines. Academic advisers meet with students to help them figure out what classes are needed, what major is most appropriate and what can be beneficial outside majors, said Shelly Gehrke , director of academic advising for the Institute of Technology . Gehrke said academic advisers go through different training depending on the department. When academic advisers are hired in I.T., she said, they are supposed to become familiar with âÄúa pile of materialsâÄù and then meet with current advisers to learn more about their specialties. Ashley Chesmore , who switched from biology to journalism to psychology, said in her experiences, her advisers werenâÄôt very helpful. She said pressure to choose a major early on and graduate in four years influenced her to pick a major she would later leave. Stressing liberal education requirements early instead of classes within a major would give underclassmen more time to decide what is best for them, Chesmore said. âÄúNo freshman really knows what they want to do,âÄù she said. âÄúSome people have a certain idea but I donâÄôt think you can really figure it out until you take a lot of classes and figure out what you really like.âÄù Mark Taylor , the director of advising in the College of Liberal Arts said it is a campus-wide goal for students to graduate in four years, but whatâÄôs most important is studentsâÄô interest. âÄúOur advisers want students to make decisions that are in line with their strengths and interests,âÄù Taylor said. âÄúAt the same time, theyâÄôre obligated to make sure the students understand the implications of those decisions.âÄù Whether students are thinking about switching majors or declaring for the first time, there are several resources available, including major fairs, and visiting the University Counseling and Consulting Services , Amy Hackett , a student adviser at the College of Education and Human Development said. Gehrke said advisersâÄô goal is for students to come out of the University with a degree theyâÄôre excited about. Steadland said the extra work she put in to start a new major has paid off. âÄúItâÄôs hard to be in a major that youâÄôre miserable in,âÄù she said. âÄúTalking to advisors is always a good thing but really just go with the major that you like.âÄù