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Ouachita Stories


Any advice for someone who doesn’t know what to study in college? #askingforafriend

Student StudyingFebruary 25, 2020 - Genie Ashcraft

If you’re about to head off to college, there’s lots to be excited about: new friends, new experiences and new opportunities to pursue your dreams. But, on the flip side, you might be panicking about what classes you should take, or what in the world you want to major in!

Knowing exactly how to jump in to your academic life in college can be intimidating, but don’t freak out! From navigating what major you should choose to graduating on time, here are some commonly asked Q&A’s so you aren’t stuck “asking for your friends.”

What is an advisor, and how can they help me?

An advisor is a faculty member who is available to help you answer questions about your degree options and your classes. Your advisor is a great person to talk to if you want to know more about a class, what majors might be suited to your interests or as you explore graduate or professional school options. If you are still unsure about which major to pursue, your advisor also can help you choose classes that allow you to explore your interests or even arrange meetings for you to talk with other faculty members about your career aspirations.

I have lots of interests I want to explore. Do I have to choose a major before I can take classes I’m interested in?

Nope! College is intended to be a time to find your path, and the faculty and staff at Ouachita are here to help you do just that. There are plenty of students who begin their first semester as an “undeclared” major and are enrolled in Ouachita’s Discover program as they consider the field they might pursue.

Before choosing a major, you can also work with your advisor to plan a class schedule of Ouachita’s required core classes and then add introductory classes to majors you are interested in. What’s more, you can take up to 18 hours of classes per semester, meaning you might have a few spare hours to play around with! (Just be aware that scheduling a class load that totals more than 18 hours adds to your tuition costs.)

What if I decide my declared major isn’t for me? Is it hard for me to change it?

That is exactly why you are assigned to an academic advisor. Let them assist you! Because of Ouachita’s size, our students greatly benefit from ease-of-access to their advisors. Hear from student William Goodson about how this made a huge difference in his academic career.

And, no, it is not very difficult to change your major; you can change at any time. Once you’ve spoken with your current advisor, you will need to visit the secretary to the dean in your new academic school, complete a change of major form, and a new advisor may be assigned to you.

But – be aware! – you can’t necessarily change your schedule mid-semester to fit your new declared major. You can add a class within the first few weeks of a semester, and there is a drop/withdrawal period for classes later in the semester. Check with your advisor about those deadlines. (And read more below about how to officially drop a class.)

So how do I drop a class? 

It is very important that you speak with your advisor about dropping a course; don’t simply stop attending class!

To officially drop a course from your schedule, you need to go to your advisor to complete a “drop form,” and both you and your advisor must sign the form. Afterwards, you will need to deliver the form to your dean’s administrative assistant, who will get the dean’s approval and officially drop the class from your schedule.

Another important fact to be aware of: Your financial aid or scholarships may have a minimum requirement of hours, which usually range from 12 to 15 hours each semester. Before you drop a class, it’s always good to check with the Student Financial Services office to be sure your financial aid is not affected.

How can I make sure I will graduate on time? 

Create a degree plan! Basically, this is a semester-to-semester roadmap you will create with your advisor to keep you on track for the classes you are required to take – for both your Ouachita core classes and your major/minor. While you are not required to make your degree plan until you have 59 or more projected class hours, a degree plan is super helpful for staying on track for graduation.

Something to keep in mind: Be sure to watch for courses that are only offered in particular semesters, such as fall or spring or odd/even-numbered years. You also can free up some hours in your class schedule by taking Ouachita core courses in Winter, May or Summer terms.
Being aware of all the resources available to you – especially the faculty and staff at Ouachita – as you consider what to study in college will make your academic experience much less stressful.

Have other questions about attending college? Read more from our #Askingforafriend Q&A series.

Contributor: Genie Ashcraft, administrative assistant to the dean of Ouachita’s Huckabee School of Education