Helping you declare the major that's right for you!
Welcome to the online home of the Exploratory Program, designed for students at Western State Colorado University who have not yet declared a major.
The program could benefit you if one or more of the following applies to you:
- You are unsure of what you want to study
- You know what you don't want to study, but haven't yet narrowed down what you do want to pursue
- You're interested in some majors but don't know how to decide which one (or two) are the best fit
- You want to find out how your interests, values, and abilities can connect to a major and career
- You know what you want to do after college but need to determine your academic path through college
Any Western student is welcome to participate in the Exploratory Program. Our professional academic advisors are here to help you through the process of declaring a major through
- Identifying Your Interests,
- Exploring Your Values, and
- Acknowledging Your Abilities
FOCUS 2 is free for Western State Colorado University undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni.
First Time Users:
- You will need to create an account the first time you use the system
- Click here and use the access code mountaineer
- Write down your user name and password for future visits
- If you have already created an account with Focus2, click here to log-in
FOCUS 2 Resources
Common Myths about Choosing a Major
Myth 1: The best way to find out about a major is to take courses in it.
Registering for an introductory course is one way to learn about a particular major, but it may not be the best way, especially if you're just starting the exploration process. Here's why:
- Some introductory courses will not give you a good idea of what the major is like. For example, taking a non-technical introductory course in biology won't tell you just how much math and chemistry is required.
- If you register for a course just to learn more about a major and then decide not to choose that major, you'll have eliminated one major but you won't have chosen one. Deciding on majors by eliminating them one course at a time is inefficient and time-consuming. Many of the courses at Western do have a General Education option however, so you can "double" dip and even if it does not work out as a major for you, you can still have General Education credit.
- You can often learn a lot about a course and a major just by looking through the required textbooks, reading the course syllabus, and sitting in on a few class meetings before deciding whether or not to register for a course in that major.
Myth 2: I should get my Gen Eds out of the way first.
Western State Colorado University has a long list of General Education courses to choose from, but not every course on the list can be used in every major. Here are some examples:
- Students can't use courses from their own majors to meet certain General Education requirements (for example, a student majoring in business can't use any businesses courses to meet any of the General Education requirements). Please refer to your DegreeWorks screen to see a display of General Education course options.
- In some majors, certain General Education courses can “double dip” with other courses required in the major; in other majors, those same General Education courses won't "double dip".
- Although students in some majors can select any General Education natural science courses, students in other majors must select two or three different types of natural sciences courses and sometimes must have a lab course.
- You could complete all of the General Education courses for one major and find that many of them won't count in other majors.
So you can see that while you're exploring majors, you need to select your General Education courses very carefully. Your advisor and DegreeWorks are great resources for you.
Myth 3: Picking a major and a career are the same thing.
Students often think that choosing a major is the same thing as choosing a career (and vice-versa). Although these two choices are related, choosing one doesn't automatically mean you've chosen the other. Here are just a few examples:
- Some people assume that students who major in the arts, humanities, or social sciences are either not qualified for any jobs (“What can you do with a degree in english?”) or qualified only for careers in those specific areas. Actually, students who major in theatre, anthropology, history, psychology, and similar majors do find jobs in business, research, human resources, teaching, the military, and a variety of other occupations. If you want to check out the potential fields you can pursue with each major/minor feel free to check out the "What can I do with a major in....." webpage.
- Many students who decide they want to be a lawyer automatically assume that they should major in politics and government with a pre-law emphasis. The reality is that a student can choose any major and still be accepted into law school.
- Many students who decide they want to be a doctor assume they should major in biology with a pre-med/cell biology emphasis. But students can major in many different areas and still qualify for medical school, as long as they take the right courses (prereqs), do well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), etc. Choosing a major other than pre-med can often give students more options after they graduate.
- Students graduating from any one major could be employed in many different jobs; likewise, people who are employed in any one job could have graduated from many different majors.
Choosing a major doesn't limit you to just one career; choosing a career doesn't limit you to just one major.
Myth 4: Choosing one major means giving up all the others.
Actually, there are ways for students to combine interests in more than one major. At Western students have the ability to double major, or major and double minor. The possibilities are endless.
Sometimes students who find out how much time it would take to complete multiple majors decide instead to complete just one undergraduate major and then go on for a master's degree in another area. Graduate degrees don't have to be in the same area as undergraduate degrees. For example, a student who earns a bachelor's degree in music might go on to earn a master's degree in business administration. Or a student with an undergraduate degree in mathematics might go on to earn a post-baccalaureate teaching certificate or a master's degree in computer science.
Myth 5: My major will determine what I do for the rest of my life.
Did you know that studies have shown that within ten years after graduation, most people are working in careers that are not directly related to their undergraduate majors?
Just like students change their majors, graduates change their careers. There are doctors, for example, who decide to become lawyers, and lawyers who decide to become doctors. Although these are unusual examples, it's not unusual for most people to change careers several times during their professional lives. A teacher, for example, might become a principal or a superintendent, or an engineer might move into a management position.
Most jobs also change over time, whether people want them to or not. Many jobs that exist today will be very different five years from now or may even be obsolete by then. New types of jobs are emerging every year, and most of us have no way of knowing what those jobs will be or what type of education will be needed in order to qualify for them.
The current emphasis in career planning at the undergraduate level is on the development of general, transferrable skills (e.g., writing, speaking, critical thinking, computer literacy, problem solving, team building) that employers want and that graduates will need in order to adjust to rapidly changing careers.
People change; careers change. The connection between the major that you choose now and the career that you'll find yourself in ten years from now is likely to be very small. If you want to check out the potential positions you can pursue with each major/minor feel free to check out the "What can I do with a major in....." webpage.