Date of Award
Master of Education (MEd)
Interdisciplinary Studies in Education
As an advisor for undeclared students, I see daily how anxieties around declaring a major, around getting a job after graduating, and around identifying a singular passion delay the process of finding an academic home for first years. This master’s thesis investigates undeclared students’ financial, social, personal, and familial motivations for choosing their major. It offers advice for how to find a major that aligns with these motivations, while also addressing key concerns such as time to degree, sustaining curiosity, and encouraging intellectual and creative development.
Drawing on secondary research, I will reflect upon three consistent themes: the importance of narrative building, the privilege of having a passion and being able to pursue it, and the value of a liberal arts education in particular to the types of students who find themselves beginning college without a major. I bring these three themes together around four topics related to advising undeclared students: the myth of the singular path, the importance of innovation and adaptation in the workplace, the relationships we have to the work we do, and the value of experiential learning. I augment higher education research and students’ experiences with my own journey as an exploratory college student. This work is therefore an example of Scholarly Personal Narrative or SPN writing, a type of autoethnography that aims to make meaning of one’s experiences and situate them within a pre-existing body of research. My hope is to alleviate anxiety for my students, to help fellow advisors understand their students’ journeys, and to encourage support from my students’ loved ones and peers.
Number of Pages
Hughes, Kimberly Kristine, "Exploring Exploration; Unpacking The Journey To Declaring An Undergraduate Major" (2021). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1466.