Changing a Major and Maneuvering Add/Drop Registration

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Dana Hartley, Ph.D.
Director of Undergraduate Studies

One of the most stressful events for incoming and returning students is deciding whether to change their major. Naturally, parents want their students to find the "right path" and move forward in a productive manner. For students, this process is often filled with anxiety and doubt. Our main piece of advice for students and parents is "don't panic!" There is a process in place that students should follow for a successful outcome. However, it is important to note that due to timing, there are differences for freshman and continuing students.

If your freshman suddenly decides to change majors right when school starts, it is not the time to panic. It is also not the time to change their major. The course work for the first semester is general enough (and fulfills requirements for all majors) that there is no real reason to start changing classes at this time. Moreover, it is very likely your student does not yet know enough about the other majors available. This is where our freshman seminar, GT1000, can provide beneficial guidance for your student. In GT1000, students have the opportunity to learn about a major of interest as well as other major options.

If your student is a continuing student and has decided to change majors, they should act on it before school starts. If they know which major they want to pursue, they should contact that advisor well before the term starts via In addition to the paperwork, it is important to attend the right classes from the very start of the term. However, if they are really undecided and just know that they want out of their current major, your student should first go see one of the undecided advisors via The advisor will help determine what major is the best fit. In addition, the advisor will most likely encourage your student to talk to the advisor(s) in the major(s) of interest to learn more about the curriculum and available opportunities.

In addition to changing majors, quite a bit of confusion and frenzy surrounds the Add/Drop (known as Phase II registration) period of registration. Phase II registration for fall 2010 begins Saturday, August 14 and ends Friday, August 27. During this time, students can add and drop courses. After August 27, a student’s schedule is final and no classes can be added. A class can be dropped, but a "W" will appear on the transcript, and those hours may count against financial aid.

There are a few "rules" to follow for Phase II registration.
1. No matter what, students should attend all the classes they think they might take. This amounts to a few extra hours, versus already being a week behind!
2. Students should know what they want to take prior to Phase II registration. So, if your student doesn't know, they should talk to their advisor first. Remember, classes are in session during Phase II, and your student can get behind in classes while trying to make decisions.
3. There are always exceptions in life. If your student is confused, recommend that your student goes to see an advisor for guidance.

If you or your student has questions about academic advising, please visit the Academic Advising website for helpful resources and contact information.


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