Exploratory Program

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

Exploratory Survey



FOCUS 2 is a web-based, personalized career and education planning system based on established career and counseling principles. It provides a complete picture of your interests, values, personality, skills, and leisure activities using self-assessment questionnaires, interest inventories, and personality testing. After assessing your personal attributes, the system searches its career and occupational information database to identify and analyze occupations and career paths that match your personal characteristics.

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

Returning Users:

  • If you have already created an account with Focus2, click here to log-in

FOCUS 2 Resources

FOCUS 2 PowerPoint

FOCUS 2 Workbook

2013-2014 PALs (Peer Academic Leaders)

2013-2014 Peer Academic Leaders

Stefano, Christopher, Scott, and Mary

Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) work in close cooperation with the Academic Resource Center to provide a high level of service to Western students. PALs contribute to the intellectual and personal growth of students by offering their insight into academic issues. They strive to promote academic excellence and student success at Western.  They are peers helping peers make the right connection.




Stefano Ballesteros


Politics and Government, Pre-Law


Writing fiction, playing rugby, movies and video games

What I like about Western:

It is a community; people know each other and take care of each other.

My favorite thing about living in Gunnison:

Every day is an adventure.

My favorite meal at my favorite Gunnison or Crested Butte restaurant:

Big Mike’s special double bacon cheeseburger at Mad Jacks!

Interesting/random fact about me:

I was born in Italy.



Christopher Daniel Watson


Politics and Government, History, and French


I enjoy lifting seriously and staying fit, I also enjoy chilling with friends whether it's at the gym, in the bars, or just chilling at home. I also enjoy to game frequently. I enjoy reading and learning about events that are taking place in the present world. I love to discuss anything in the hopes that I can enlighten others, and that I can be enlightened. Through experience and pragmatism knowledge is gained.

What I like about Western:

The most enjoyable aspect about Western concerns the faculty; a great majority of the professors at this institution are brilliant and take the necessary time to promote the prosperity and success of their students. Smaller campuses compared to larger campuses are considered to be more individualistic meaning that students have an opportunity to express their beliefs without harsh scrutiny, whereas, I have heard from numerous sources that at larger schools student's beliefs expressed sometimes rebound and the professor mocks the individual for attempting to be engaged with the course, even if the individual's response isn't up to par with the response that the professor is expecting. The main difference is class size; this statement won't always be true, however a good aspect to compare academic institutions that are appealing to a student in which they want to attend.

My favorite thing about living in Gunnison:

The best thing about living in Gunnison is the surroundings, especially the mountains; they make this campus and city a truly beautiful place.

My favorite meal at my favorite Gunnison or Crested Butte restaurant:

My favorite restaurant is in Gunnison and it's Power Stop, they host a great event known as flip night every Wednesday.

Interesting/random fact about me:

I have attended four different high schools in two different states, and I wouldn't have asked for it any other way because of this I am here at Western and very grateful for having chosen this academic institution.



Scott Cantril


Exercise and Sport Science- Sports Management/ Business and Sport Psychology Minor


I enjoy hiking 14ers and backpacking treks, everything sports, skiing, reading, rock climbing, and watching Breaking Bad and How I Met Your Mother.

What I like about Western:

The passion our faculty, staff, and professors have towards teaching but also the success of their students. Western provides a unique atmosphere that allows you to step outside your comfort zone, both in school and outdoor activities. Everyone loves the work hard, play hard motto. The entertainment here is different than anywhere else in the country. Not many other universities have a Rail Jam competition or ice climbing competitions on campus.

My favorite thing about living in Gunnison:

"Traffic" doesn't exist. It's a small and close knit community that provides endless places to go rock climbing, ice climbing, stand up paddleboard, kayaking, backpacking, mountain biking, ski/snowboard/backcountry skiing, snowshoe, whitewater rafting, fishing, and hunting.

My favorite meal at my favorite Gunnison or Crested Butte restaurant:

The Gutbuster from Powerstop.

Interesting/random fact about me:

I am obsessed with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I've hitchhiked with over 400 people while commuting to and from Crested Butte. I used to do gymnastics when I was four years old.



Mary McClure


Biology/Pre-Allied Health/Psychology


Baking, playing games with my family and friends, and watching Pretty Little Liars.

What I like about Western:

I can get a lot of individual attention from my professors when I need help, and, because of the small class sizes, they even remember my name!

My favorite thing about living in Gunnison:

Everyone is so friendly and welcoming.

My favorite meal at my favorite Gunnison or Crested Butte restaurant:

An Original Stromboli and a half and half salad from Mario's Pizza. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Interesting/random fact about me:

I discovered what I wanted to do for a career after I got a really bad injury. It proved to me that God has control and great things can come out of terrible situations!


Ever wondered what you can do for a career after you graduate with a business or history degree?  Below are the Majors and Minors offered at Western.  Click on them to find out potential careers in that given area of study in addition to skills that you acquire throughout your studies. 


Accounting EducationMusic 
AnthropologyEnglishPhilosophy (minor only)
ArtEnvironment and SustainabilityPhysics (minor only) 
BiologyExercise and Sport SciencePolitics and Government 
Business AdministrationGeography (minor only)Psychology 
Chemistry Geology Recreation and Outdoor Education 
Communication ArtsHistory Sociology
Computer Information Science Interdisciplinary Studies Spanish

Common Myths about Choosing a Major

Most students begin exploring majors with some preconceived ideas about how to choose a major and about the impact that choice will have on their lives. Unfortunately, many of these ideas are really just myths and misconceptions. Listed below are some common myths about choosing a major and examples of why these ideas are wrong.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.  
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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".
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Discover your Major Events are held each semester to explore the various majors, minors, and emphases available to students at Western. The Fall semester is home to the Discover your Major Workshops Series, and the Major Fair is housed during the spring semester.

Exploratory Program Syllabus