UConn introduces 'The Major Experience:' A hands-on approach to finding a major

A new program at the University of Connecticut promises to help students think about majors and career paths through online resources, personalized advising and student mentoring.

“It’s basically a program that was designed to allow students to explore majors, careers and their interests in an interactive way that works for them at their own pace and their own time,” said Harry Twyman, Program Coordinator and Coach for The Major Experience (TME).

TME offers an online component where students can take assessments to get an idea of what major to consider. By clicking “Get Started”, students can fill out a series of questions about themselves called the TME Action Plan Request Form. The answers get sent to TME coaches who work with student to make a plan for using the resources available at the university.

The second component is personalized mentoring. Students can make appointments with TME coaches, which could take the form of a phone call or Skype sessions. Additionally, TME offers student mentors from nearly every major as resources for other students who want to discover more about particular options. Students can communicate with student mentors online, but Twyman said that mentors often meet up with students over coffee to chat as well. 

As a mentor for secondary English education in the Neag School of Education, Emily Orkins said she encourages students not to be afraid of changing their majors and taking their first year at UConn as an opportunity to explore interests and passions. 

“In being a mentor, I hope to alleviate some of the anxiety students have in applying to Neag,” Orkins said. “I also hope to share some of the amazing clinical experience that I’ve had with the schools here in Connecticut.” 

The Princeton Review recommends that students should take a class or two in the major they think is right for them, look at the syllabus of more advanced classes and talk to students within that major. Often, college students pick majors based on a dream job they have in mind, but it helps to understand what it means to prepare for and actually do that particular job, according to a guide written by Princeton. 

This is the first program of its kind, Twyman said, and although ACES (the Academic Center for Exploratory Students) is an option, TME brings the entire university into the fold. 

ACES began to help students decide on a major, according to their website, and the program pairs students with advisors that help them explore opportunities at the university. 

Even though ACES is available for all students, those outside the program feel that they cannot use ACES resources, Twyman said. TME is a way of bringing the entire student population into the mix. Whether or students not have a major, TME can be used to get a better idea of what particular majors are like and what to consider when picking one. 

“This resource is there for students who have declared majors and want to change, or want to add another degree, or want to just research their own current major a little bit more,” Twyman said. “And what we’re finding is that students who are using the site right now are people that have a major and are not part of ACES.” 

Lisa Iwanicki, a third-year nursing major, is the health and medicine team leader for TME, and while she does have a major, she said that she can use TME’s online assessments to understand her strengths and weaknesses while getting to know her career path better. 

“I’ve talked to a few nursing students and the most of the questions I get are about course load because you hear that in nursing school you don’t have time for anything,” Iwanicki said. “I’ve been giving my own experience about that and how I’ve had to balance things.”

Resources for helping students decide on a major were disjointed before TME, Twyman said, but the website brings together resources from across the web and the university into one place for easy access and use. TME unites multiple departments such as ACES, the Office of Undergraduate Research, First Year Programs and UConn Center for Career Development. 

When it comes to picking majors or making life decisions, Iwanicki said students should keep calm.

“Everyone gets through it and it’s okay,” Iwanicki said. “I feel like giving my own experiences helps students feel more confident when they go through it knowing what to expect.”


Diler Haji is a staff writer for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at diler.haji@uconn.edu.