Struggling with choosing your major?

Amanda Morrow

On his first day of classes, however, he discovers he faints at the sight of blood.

Kelley Stillwagon, a Kent State Career Services Center counselor, sees students with major decision issues like that every day.

“One common way is parents have a lot of influence on students,” Stillwagon said. “I’ll get students who will come in here their junior year and they hate science so they went into nursing for the wrong reasons. So, I think parents can play a very important part in it, but they have to be careful with that.”

Other students that Stillwagon sees are those who loved a particular high school class.

“Maybe you had this great physics teacher and you get here and you don’t like physics and you can’t figure out why,” she said. “You say, ‘Well, I got an A in physics,’ but maybe it was just a really cool teacher you had.”

Stillwagon said she sometimes meets with students who know exactly what they want to major in.

“Those students drive another group of students crazy because there’s another group of students that have no clue,” she said. “They just have no idea what they want to do.”

For them, Stillwagon recommends a three-credit-hour class called Career Exploration where students are able to take self-assessment tests to see where they are best suited.

Caitlin McLaughlin, a junior English education major, was a theater major when she started classes at Kent State.

McLaughlin took a year off from school to think about where she wanted to go.

“College is an experience,” she said. “You’re going to find out what you like and don’t like through practice.”

Now, she feels she is on the right career path.

“I’m planning on becoming a teacher,” she said. “I’m in the direction I wanted to be and things are looking up.”

Sophomore physics major Annette Drapp began in a different major as well. After she completed a year of computer information design, she decided to switch to physics.

“It just wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore,” she said.

Drapp spoke with the head of the undergraduate department and decided physics would be the best choice.

“It just seemed like it suited me better than the other one did.”

However, Drapp may graduate later because she switched majors late in her college career.

Stillwagon said it’s normal for students to change their majors around three to four times while in college.

“Have some direction because with some majors it’s really important to declare early,” she said. “For example, nursing and educStillwagon said students should have a good understanding of themselves.

“If science is not your interest, we’re not going to put you in a nursing program. Know your strengths and your background,” she said.

She also said students need to make an educated decision about their careers.

“Talk to everybody. If you want to become a geographer, talk to people in that field. Talk to people who are actually out there working,” she said.

Career Services should be the next place students visit to make an appointment with a counselor.

Stillwagon said by that point, students should be educated enough choose a career.

“Pick your career, what you want to do and then we’ll find the path to get you to that career,” she said.

Although it can be difficult for students to choose a major, Stillwagon said the people at the Career Services Center are always available to help.

“If students aren’t comfortable coming in talking to a career counselor they can look at our website,” Stillwagon said. “We have all kinds of self-assessments.”

The Career Services Center offers one-on-one sessions with career counselors and mock interviews. Students can make an appointment or stop by during drop in hours for a quick chat.

To students still undecided about where to go with their college career, Stillwagon offered one final thought.

“You have to follow your passion and what you believe in,” Stillwagon said.

The Career Services Center’s office is located in the Michael Schwartz Center in room 261. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Contact news correspondent Amanda Morrow at [email protected].