Discussing your student’s major: Exploration Is Normal!

January 3, 2013

During their well-earned winter break, many of your students will excitedly discuss their choice of major with you. Others may discuss several majors and be as yet undecided about which one to select. Still others may decide to major in two areas, or are considering a major and one of MIAD’s many minors.

All of these discussions are part of the transitions that occur during your student’s first year. MIAD’s First-Year Experience encourages students to explore their many options, interests and potential, which often expand and develop in different directions from their original plans. The First-Year program gives students myriad opportunities to explore media and disciplines. During the fall semester, many students refined their thoughts about a major, or moved into entirely new areas, particularly as a result of the Research, Practice and Methods courses.

For the spring, your student will have selected from among ten Introduction to Advanced Study (IAS) courses that provide even more customized learning based on their interest in a major.

Students will also have selected from among one of two courses: Drawing and Image Concepts, and Spatial Concepts. As explained by Vice President of Academic Affairs David Martin, “The courses are taught by faculty interested in challenging students’ ideas about two- and three-dimensional art and design, and exploring the possibilities across specific media and traditional boundaries of media.”

But what if your son or daughter is unsure of which major to choose? Does selection of a specific IAS course, or one of the two second-semester courses, lock them into a major? Is being uncertain about their major normal?

Being uncertain is normal, and students can certainly change their mind about a major in the spring regardless of which IAS elective they select. It is not uncommon for freshmen to change their minds once or twice regarding their major.

In addition to their coursework, other opportunities will spark your students’ creative and professional formation, including February’s Freshmen Professional Symposium, during which diverse art and design professionals will share their portfolios and talk about their work. All freshmen will have a chance to meet these professionals, many of them alumni, and to see and discuss first-hand how specific disciplines morph into unique careers.

And in April, freshmen will participate in the college-wide MIAD DEFINE – an opportunity for personal and professional growth through student and faculty discussions and presentations centered about the 2013 Senior Exhibition.

But despite all these coming opportunities, now, during break, is a perfect time for you to talk to your student about a chosen major, or the options he or she is considering, and to encourage them to take advantage of all the resources available to them as they do so.

Students who are undecided about their major should seek advice from their academic advisor, their faculty and advanced-level students in areas they are considering.

They should also not hesitate to contact MIAD’s Career Services to learn more about professional outcomes and career opportunities, especially because our four-year career program is unique among colleges nationwide.

The more and earlier students use Career Services and its resources, the more likely they will make realistic and satisfying decisions about their professional development and future.

The most important thing is for your student to be committed to art and design as a professional, creative learning and career path, and to working through challenges in their development. I know I speak for faculty and staff throughout the college in assuring you that our commitment to their success is unwavering.

Rebecca Balistreri (BEC), Director of College Advising

P.S. As of January 1, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may be submitted and is available at fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA form must be submitted each year.  Do not hesitate to contact our Financial Aid staff if you have any questions.

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