Two students look at their phones.

Keeping in Communication with your Student: The Power of Being in the Right Major

The New Student Academic Services unit housed within Student Housing and Dining Services is comprised of Orientation and Residential Academics. Our team is dedicated to supporting your students transition into and through UC Davis.   

This is the fifth part of a series where we highlight part of the academic transition your student might be experiencing and questions you can ask your student to help support them through this transition. 

- - - 

This month we are focusing on major exploration. UC Davis has over 100 majors! There truly is a major for everyone, but it can be overwhelming. There are many careers and fields of study that many of us aren’t exposed to growing up. 

It is very common for students to change their major at UC Davis. If your student entered with a declared major, and they decide they want to change their major, they aren’t alone. In fact, more than half of students change their major after entering UC Davis. Students are exposed to new majors and career ideas once they get here, and they start to learn what classes and research interests them once they start engaging with course material.   

It is also very common for students to decide to change their major but still be unsure of what to major in. This is where major exploration can be helpful. This is a great opportunity for your student to embark on the journey of self-discovery and find a major that aligns with their life purpose and goals. 

The decision to change your major in college is a very personal one and there is no one right answer, and it is often a difficult decision for students. When students aren’t in the right major they report more feelings of overwhelm, uninterest in course work, it might be difficult to keep up with tasks and assignments, which can be a lot of pressure. Whereas when they are in the correct major, the opposite is true, coursework comes easier, they are more interested in their studies, their grades reflect that, and they are happier. 

Everyone has different strengths, skills and talents. We aren’t all meant to be doctors, or lawyers, or teachers, or first responders, and that is what makes the world a beautiful place. When students find the right major that aligns with their interests, talents, and strengths, they become extraordinary at what they are good at. 

Here are some ways for your student to get started in their major exploration process 

1. Learn about the Majors at UC Davis     

This website lets you explore all the majors at UC Davis. What is even better is you can sort by College, Career Field, and Interest Area to narrow down your choices. From there you can read about each major, what you can do with the major, and the major requirements.   

This can be really a really helpful tool to start noticing trends and themes around the majors that interest your student. 

2. Majors Card Sort  

The Majors Card sort is a fun and interactive almost quiz like tool. It will ask you a series of questions and based on your answers it will suggest some majors that might be a good fit with your interests and/or skills. 

3. Read other student and staff member’s journeys on the Majors Blog  

Learn firsthand from other UC Davis students, staff, and faculty about their experience with major exploration, changing their major, and more. 

4. Talk to Advisors 

To learn more about a specific major and to find out how changing a major will affect a student’s trajectory at UC Davis, visiting an academic advisor is highly recommended. Major Advisors can talk to students in detail about their major, the requirements, and how changing their major will impact their time at UC Davis. Faculty advisors are great resources for students to discuss career options and how to utilize a major post graduation. Advisor information can be found at the website of the major your student is interested in. 

5. Find an internship 

One of the best ways to test if a major is the best fit for a career of interest is through an internship. I have worked with students who thought they knew exactly what they wanted to do with their major after graduation, found an internship, and realized that actually is NOT what they want to do. I have also worked with many students who participate in an internship and love it and any question or confusion melts away, and others who try a couple different types of internships to explore what they like best. There isn’t one right way to do an internship, and they are incredibly helpful in major and career exploration, and they look great on a student’s resume. For more information about internships, visit the Internship and Career Center (ICC) website  

In addition to sharing these resources, you can support your student by: 

1. Encouraging your students to explore different majors if they are unhappy in their current major, and do your best to listen to what the student enjoys. This can be really challenging, especially when you have dreams for your student that are different than what your student wants to pursue. 

2. Encouraging your student to try different things to help them explore. Everything they try will get them closer to what they really want to major in and do with their career. There are very few limitations or “wrong” choices because everything they are exposed to and learn is feedback and evidence pointing them towards the best decision for themselves, and college is the perfect time to explore. 

3. If your student expresses concern, disinterest, or confusion around their major, ask your student 

  • What do you like and dislike about your major? 
  • Imagine the life you want to have and what you want to be doing after graduation. How does this major support that vision? What needs to change? 
  • What are the implications of changing your major? Where are you in your academic career? How might this impact number of years at UC Davis, finances, post graduation plans etc. 

If your student needs assistance and lives in the residence halls or The Green, they should connect with their Residential Academic Peer Mentor. Many of our Academic Peer Mentors have grappled with changing their major and are going through the same experience as your student. Peer Mentors are trained on the academic resources at UC Davis and to connect students with the best resource to help with their needs. We are here to help your student succeed!

Primary Category

Secondary Categories

Parents and Families