Declaration Day invites underclassmen to commit to a degree

The Center for Student Success (CSS) held (Major) Declaration Day on Dec. 1, an event geared toward providing students with information and advice on how to choose a major. Ramapo requires students to declare a major by the time they reach 64 credits — usually second semester sophomore year. The event was aimed at freshmen and sophomores to make the process less daunting. 

Academic advisors Caitlyn Campbell and Jessica Simon led the discussion and began with what they referred to as the Ramapo Exploration Program (REP). REP is a way for undeclared students to become accustomed to Ramapo and then find the major that is the best fit for them. The first step is the course catalog, which is “the ultimate source of information at the college,” according to Simon.

Simon also laid out how the catalog works. The catalog outlines every major and minor based on their requirements, but she advised undeclared students to search by school in order to narrow down choices.

“You might be able to nix out entire schools, like alright I know I’m not interested in math, designs or I know I’m not interested in communications so I can nix those out and focus on two or three schools. And that’s something that’s a good practice to help make the list more manageable,” she said. 

Campbell also explained how students can narrow down options by exploring the requirements for a major. The page for each major includes a brief description of what the major entails and what kinds of job opportunities students can find in that field. Each major also outlines what required courses students need to take and a brief description about them.

“A good major for you is going to have a majority of these classes excite you and inspire you,” she said. “If you really love the idea of studying biology, but then you’re reading through the major requirements and you hate all the bio classes, hate all the chemistry classes, physics, maybe biology is not going to be the right fit for you.”

Simon also mentioned school core requirements and general education requirements as ways to help narrow down the choice and stay on track for graduation. If a student is stuck deciding between two majors in the same school, they can complete their school’s core requirements first. She gave Anisfield School of Business as an example. The list of core requirements is far shorter than the major requirements. There would be overlap between majors, leaving students on track to graduate in four years while they make their decision. The various categories for general education give students flexibility in exploring different majors while fulfilling the category requirements.

Campbell and Simon shared some of the ways undeclared students can take the next step once they’ve narrowed down their choices. Students can schedule appointments with career advisors at the Career Center on their website or on Handshake. When registering for an appointment, students note what school they are part of, but there is an option for undeclared students as well. Simon recommended meeting with the convener of a major to get a better idea of what you will be learning and what kind of learning it will be. She called them a “really good valuable resource.” Students can also sign up for appointments with their academic advisors on Connect for advice. 

They ended the discussion with the final step in the process: declaring a major. Both the major and minor declaration form can be found online. Most majors can be declared, except for majors that are based on admission agreement like nursing. Campbell also gave an important piece of information for students to keep in mind when declaring their major.

“The requirements for a major, minor or certificate are based on the year that student matriculates or is accepted, not the year the major is declared. So, if you enter Ramapo this year fall 2022 but you don’t declare a major until fall 2023, you’re still going to be following all of the requirements from the 2022 catalog,” she said.

Photo by Matthew Wikfors.