Finding your call - Undeclared at the Mount
Many high school seniors do not know what they want to major in before coming to college. Thankfully, Mount Saint Mary College can help you find your calling.
The Mount’s undeclared program allows students to take up until the completion of 45 credits – normally achieved halfway through sophomore year – to declare a major. In addition, the liberal arts program keeps students on track to graduate in four years while also providing the freedom to explore a number of different academic possibilities.
Jonathan Geissler ’13, now the director of Marketing at Seely and Durland, Inc., emphasizes that exploration is an important aspect of getting a college degree and learning how to best apply one’s unique skills and expertise.
“If you are undecided about what direction you would like to take your career, be open to anything and everything,” he said. “Take all sorts of different classes during freshman year; maybe one of them will stick and you will ultimately figure out what you love.”
From the very beginning of their college careers, students with an undeclared major work closely with the Office of Student Success and the Center for Career and Experiential Education to find the right academic fit for them.
The Office of Student Success provides academic coaches that work one-on-one with these incoming freshmen, helping them to make class schedules that will allow them to explore a variety of subjects. These coaches act as the students’ mentors and advisors, helping them to discover majors they may enjoy and offering suggestions on academic programs that would allow them to best utilize their interests and skills.
Mount academic coaches become mentors, supporters, and friends for undeclared students.
At the Center for Career and Experiential Education, undeclared students work with career counselors on interest assessments, career mapping, and career counseling to determine how their interests and talents could be applied in the work world, which can then narrow down a choice of majors. Additionally, the center offers trips, career panels, job shadow experiences, and internships that help students to further solidify their career choices and try out their prospective field in the real world.
Coming in undeclared may actually help students find what they want to be majoring in quicker, thereby allowing them to graduate on time without switching majors later in their college careers. According to Coordinator of Academic Coaching Megan Morrissey, students who have taken the time to figure out where their strengths lie and what they really enjoy doing often wind up with a major the truly suits them.
Victoria Laiso, a Human Services major with a minor in Criminology, credits Morrissey’s assistance in helping her find her calling.
“My academic advisors helped me find my place here at Mount and the career I want to pursue once graduating with my degree,” said the college junior. “Meg helped me schedule classes that she thought fit best for me and listened to my interests so she could guide me in the best direction possible. She knows me well enough to understand what I am intrigued by and gave me different classes to understand what field of work would work best for me to better my future.”
From an academic perspective, Associate Professor of Philosophy Yasmine Kalkstein appreciates when students come in undeclared.
“I think it’s totally okay to come in undeclared,” the professor said, explaining that she herself was originally an undeclared student in college. “I wish more students would be okay with that ambiguity.” Even if students have a declared major, she tells her advisees to never stop exploring. “Those first few years at the Mount are really built for exploration.”
Laiso added, “Being undeclared allowed me to take a few classes I wouldn’t have and helped me find the career I wanted. Even if you are unsure what to major in, everyone at the Mount will do their absolute best to give you every opportunity find the special niche you’re looking for.”
For junior Cailey Walls, a Business major with a minor in Psychology, it was a trip with the Center for Career and Experiential Education that helped her solidify her choice of major. During her sophomore year, she toured the facilities at Bloomberg and Indeed in New York City which radically changed her views on the business world. She was pleased to see that businesses are looking for employees who can work well as a team, with a focus on collaboration.
Walls, who knew that she worked best in a team setting, realized that the business world was a viable career option for her: “This opportunity with the Center for Career and Experiential Education allowed me to see myself in the business setting,” Walls said.
The flexibility of a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum at the Mount allowed Walls to try classes in a few different majors without falling behind on credits. She took classes in both Education and Business, and ended up settling on Business after hearing the Mount’s faculty speak about their business travels. Walls, who hopes to travel the world after graduation, realized that the Business major would allow her flexibility not only in specialization area, but also in location.
Walls’ advice for undeclared students? Don’t panic.
“Take advantage of the opportunities that the Mount has to offer,” she advises, citing how the business trip changed her trajectory. Other opportunities for exploration exist all over campus as well, including internships, participating in clubs and activities, and more.
“If you get involved with different activities on campus you are likely to find something you are interested in and passionate about,” she said. “The trick is turning those interests and passions into a career, and your whole college career is designed to help you figure that out.”