The Missouri Miner

Missouri S&T's Student Newspaper
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EST. 1915

Miner Advice – Deciding a Major

Question

“Dear Josephine Miner,

I got an email to schedule an advising appointment and be ready to discuss what courses I should take next semester. I am an undecided engineering major. How do you decide what courses to take before talking to your advisor?

Sincerely, Mikaela”

Answer

Dear Mikaela,

First, notify your advisor about still being undecided before an advising appointment, so he or she has time to gather any material to help make a decision during the advising appointment and can look into potential classes that would be beneficial for all engineering majors take. Also, schedule an appointment with the S&T Advising Center, located in G6 in the Curtis Laws Wilson Library, to get expert advice on how to choose a major. The advising center is responsible for advising undecided undergraduates and academically deficient students.

If talking to faculty is too daunting or intimidating, talk to peers and friends already in a major that sounds interesting. Ask classmates or group members why they chose the major they did and what helped them make that decision. Knowing the reason why a person chose a major is much more relatable than just stating they are good are math and science, which nearly every engineer can say. Another option is to reach out to major professional societies by attending their meetings. Some professional societies on campus include AIChE, AIAA, IEEE, and many others. Reach out to a particular engineering department to learn of meeting times. Most societies invite all students to attend their meetings and the executive board officers are almost always willing to talk to students about their respective organization and major. Along with professional societies, reach out to interesting design teams. If the design team and project is intriguing, that could help to narrow down engineering disciplines.

Another tip is to work backwards by considering what potential jobs or career paths to pursue. Some jobs may be very particular on what type of engineers they hire narrowing down which engineering discipline to go after. It may seem even more impossible to decide a career to some students, but others might find it easier to work backwards. Jobs can be significantly more exciting to visualize oneself doing than coursework. Students may love their major studies, but end up not liking any of the jobs that are typically available for their engineering discipline.

If it is still difficult to determine what major is for you, don’t worry, there are most likely still classes you can take. Many engineering majors have overlapping course curriculums and switching majors may not even push back a projected graduation date. Most of these courses are early on in the various engineering curriculums. These courses include calculus, differential equations, physics, C++, MechE Met, and humanities, language and history. Try to take these courses first to help from delaying graduation if a major switch is made in the future. To see what each major curriculum includes, check out the following website: https://futurestudents.mst.edu/academic-programs/undergraduate-programs/. This way students don’t take too many classes that end up not counting towards their final decided major.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to switch majors later. Many students end up switching and there is nothing wrong with it. Choosing a major is not an easy decision, but it is important to graduate with the right major. Good luck to all of those students trying to decide on a major. Ask around and remember it doesn’t have to be permanent. Readers in need of advice please email any questions to miner@mst.edu.

Sincerely, Josephine Miner

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