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An estimated 20 to 50 percent of students enter college as “undecided” (Gordon, 1995) and an estimated 75 percent of students change their major at least once before graduation (Gordon, 1995).
When looking at the statistics, it is obvious that choosing a major has serious implications for the majority of students, not just undecided ones.
Unfortunately, the reality is that students are most likely not developmentally prepared to do so. Dualistic students believe there is one “right” major for them, and they tend to look to others for the answer (adviser, parents, peers, and faculty) rather than draw conclusions based on their own research, personal goals, and self-reflection.
According to Perry’s student development stages, students in their first year will experience dualism, in which the world around them is made up of dichotomies (good vs. First-year students are still attempting to understand their own identity and, having lived a majority of their lives under someone else’s guidance, they may not yet be able to come to legitimate conclusions about themselves.
If choosing a major actually means choosing one’s goals, values, and interests based on intentional self-reflection and understanding of one’s self, then first-year students simply are not ready.