BJ Yebisu / Mustang News

Cal Poly requires undergraduates to select a major during the application process. While this allows some students to get a head start in their studies, others aren’t ready to decide what field they want to pursue.

In fact, according to Career Services, about 30 percent of Cal Poly students change their major at some point.

The university is aware that there are pros and cons to their major policies. To accommodate students who want to change, Career Services created the Freshman Focus team three years ago. The team is dedicated to helping freshmen with their majors, whether that means switching them or finding internships.

“We help first-year students with self-exploration,” Freshman Focus team member Ashley Eberle said. “Figuring out who they are as people so they can make good choices about majors and careers that would suit them best.”

The Freshman Focus team assists students with researching majors, careers and ways to “test drive” their majors. They also help with career interests, such as informational interviewing, job shadowing, extracurricular and leadership involvement, internships and part-time jobs, in addition to developing the necessary professional skills that will allow freshmen to compete for internships and jobs.

Most students reach out to Career Services pretty quickly; the team sees more students coming in during fall and winter quarters.

The Freshman Focus team also helps students move into another major if they decide the major they chose isn’t right for them.

That was the case for computer science freshman Saia Fonongaloa, who is interested in switching into liberal arts and
engineering studies.

“After my first computer science class, I realized it wasn’t for me,” Fonongaloa said. “I actually went to a workshop down by the Career Center by the stadium.  The workshop had three advisors and they sort of broke down each and every major within the College of Engineering and they sort of told us what kind of person you have to be to love that major.  And they didn’t only go over engineering majors though, they went through all of these other majors that were related to engineering in case we were interested in those.”

Unfortunately, even if students discover that they want to change majors, the process can be long. They first have to attend Cal Poly for a quarter before they are allowed to begin the process. They also have to have a good academic standing and be able to complete degree requirements in a timely manner.

Chester Liu, now a business administration sophomore who switched from nutrition, said that if you’re eligible to switch, you may have to attend a workshop.

“In the workshop, they’ll talk about what you’ll do in that major, what you’ll do if you can’t switch and what your back-up plans are,” Liu said.

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