Hi everyone! My name is Michaela Lake, I am a sophomore Psychology major at the College, working as a Social Media Intern for the Admissions Office. I have noticed through talking to prospective students and parents, and working our Open House, that a lot of students are curious about the process of declaring a major, and what exactly that process looks like here at Holy Cross. I know personally that choosing a major can be stressful, and looks different from college to college, so I thought I would share more of what the process looks like here.
All first-year students come into Holy Cross their first semester undeclared. This allows students to explore different academic disciplines across departments, helping solidify an academic interest, ultimately helping plan the next three years at the College. Personally, I found this to be very beneficial to my academic track, and relieved some of my stress about my first year. Coming in undeclared allowed me to feel less pressure and constraint on what I could study, and allowed me to take a variety of classes across my different interests. In my first semester on the Hill, I was able to take an Education course, as well as a Political Science class, and get a better sense of what I was passionate about, and what classes and academic track that would fit my passion. Even though coming in undeclared can seem overwhelming, it is actually a really nice benefit for first year students, not having to stay on one track from the onset of their first semester through graduation.
At the beginning of their first semester, first-year students consult and meet their first-year advisors. First-year advisors are an awesome resource for students, especially when it comes to deciding a major; they are here to get to know you and your interests, and are there to help facilitate your academic track. Advisors check in throughout the semester, and are available to answer any questions or concerns about classes, alleviate any stress, and talk to students about their interests. First-year advisors can direct students’ questions to other departments if they are unsure of an answer themselves, and can recommend what classes to take or professors to talk to going forward at Holy Cross. I can safely say my first-year advisor was a great resource for me, answering my questions about different classes and programs, and made me feel confident going forward in my academic track at Holy Cross.
Classes first semester of freshman year are a great way to guide any sort of interest a student would have. A part of why I personally chose Holy Cross was the liberal arts education, something that gave me the most academic freedom. As I wrote earlier, I took a variety of classes my freshman year, and this was a great way for me to decide on my academic track at Holy Cross. Part of the beauty of the Liberal Arts curriculum is that students can take a variety of courses while also fulfilling course requirements for graduation. Taking a breadth of courses across disciplines, especially in a student’s first year, satisfies the requirements of our liberal arts curriculum, while also providing the opportunity to explore what exactly they want to major in.
Going to college allows for students to pursue their academic interests with more freedom for the first time, something that can seem overwhelming.
My advice to incoming students at Holy Cross is to take introductory-level courses that spark your interest. For example, if you are considering majoring in Economics, take a 100-level course and get a sense of what an academic track as an Economics major would like. Loved your French class in high school? Take a French class! Enroll in classes that spark your interest, and this will help facilitate a sense of what you would like to take going into the rest of your experience at Holy Cross.
The best advice I could give to prospective and incoming students regarding selecting a major is do not feel like there is a rush to declare. Students at Holy Cross can declare as early as their second semester freshman year, and can change their major at any point through the end of their second semester of their sophomore year. The best thing students can do to solidify what major they should pursue is to take their time, explore any possible interests, communicate with their advisors, and keep an open mind heading into their college experience. Enjoy your academic freedom, and an academic track will become clear!
Michaela Lake ’22