Exploring at Central
Not sure of your major? You're not alone! Nearly two-thirds of Central's first-year students are unclear about their major when they arrive on campus. That's okay! You're part of the 75 percent of American college students who either start their college career as undecided or change their major at least once. It's all part of the process of exploring your options.
At Central College, students who start as Exploring can still graduate in four years! In fact, they graduate in four years at the same rate as the rest of the student body. You are not required to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year, so the key is to use your first two years wisely! Central has lots of resources available to help you evaluate your options and make an informed decision you can feel confident about.
Who to Talk To
People are the best resources of all! There are lots of people at Central who are ready to answer your questions. Here's who to ask:
- Your academic adviser - Ask them about creating a class schedule, introductory courses for different majors, or how and when to declare a major.
- Denise Barnard, Career Center - Talk with Denise about assessing your interests, the careers a major will prepare you for, or about taking the exploring experience course.
- Your class dean - Talk with your class dean if you're not sure where to start in the process, you're uncertain about your academic options, or for help laying out a course schedule.
- Professors - If something catches your interest in a course, ask the professor about similar courses or majors.
- Other students - Ask your fellow students about their majors, how they decided, and for their advice on majors at Central.
Starting as an exploring student at Central won't keep you from building toward a great career. These former exploring students found jobs after graduation and graduate school programs they needed to be successful:
- Research associate, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Marion, Iowa
- U.S. Marine Corps Officer, Quantico, Va.
- Client service specialist, Applied Underwriters, Omaha, Neb.
- AmeriCorps member, Flood Relief Project, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Graduate student, library and information science, Madison, Wis.
- Graduate student, vocal performance, Roosevelt University, Chicago, Ill.
- Graduate student, counseling and career development, Colorado State University, Boulder, Colo.
- Graduate student, College of Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Internships are a great way to gain career experience. Central students can do internships in the Pella and Des Moines area, on our Chicago or Washington, DC programs, or at one of Central's eight study abroad sites. Past internship sites of exploring students include:
- Corporate benefits intern, Vermeer Corporation, Pella, Iowa
- Youth ministry intern, Pella United Methodist Church, Pella, Iowa
- Conservation intern, The Nature Conservancy, Sioux City, Iowa
- Women's shelter intern, Crisis Intervention Services, Oskaloosa, Iowa
Learn more about internships at Central.
Here is a sample course and additional tools for exploring/undecided majors:
1. Exploring experience course; COLL108
- 1 credit, offered every term
- Focuses on exploration of self, then majors and careers
- Ideal for sophomores in fall semester and freshmen in spring semester
2. College Majors Scorecard
- Measures interest in 49 majors by giving sample work tasks
- Results shown individually and also grouped by discipline
- Available at any point during the four years, with a follow up meeting with Denise Barnard, Career Center
- Linked to College Majors Handbook, which gives careers, industries and salaries data
3. What can I do with this major?
- Available on the Career Center website: http://www.central.edu/career/majors/index.cfm
- Lists approximately 50 majors, most offered at Central. If not, it shows relevant Central major(s).
- For each major, it provides "areas for employment," "employers in that area," and "strategies to enter that industry."
It can be challenging to make your "major" decision, but it becomes easier when you know where to start. You can take steps during your first two years at Central that will help you discover more about yourself and opportunities available to you. Here's your to-do list!
- Take a variety of courses from across the curriculum. Don't just satisfy your core requirements. Choose courses that will help you intentionally explore your interests.
- Attend Career Center workshops and events to learn about career opportunities and strategize for your future plans.
- Talk with real professionals about what they do. There's no simpler way to find out if it's for you. The Career Center will help set up a job shadow or informational interview.
- Get a job! On or off-campus part-time jobs will help you learn about what you do and don't want to do - plus you gain skills and experience.
- Join clubs, organizations and teams on campus. It's great leadership experience, it builds skills, and it's fun!
- Volunteer through service-learning or the Campus Volunteer Center. It helps the community, it builds connections, and you can put it on your resume.