Surfing for Majors

Surfing for Majors

College websites provide a ton of academic information—if you know where to look. Here are a couple of tips to help you learn more about the academic programs of schools you are interested in.

Homepage

On a college homepage, look for links such as: Academics, Majors, Degree Programs, Courses of Study or Academic Planners. From there you should be able to easily find a list of the programs available and the majors offered.   

Department Web Pages

The web pages of academic departments offer a wealth of information for majors of interest to you.  

  • Read about faculty members, their teaching and research interests, and their academic and professional backgrounds. Some professors have their own web pages which offer a look into their personality and teaching style. 
  • Review the course descriptions, which are often more detailed than in the course catalog. Some departments post up-to-date syllabi which outlines course objectives, as well as the professor's expectations of students. You may also find a schedule of tests, required reading, paper due dates, student projects and extra-curricular activities in this subject.
  • Sneak a peek at your college workload, which may also be found under Academic Planners, to get a feel for what a typical course schedule would be.
  • Many departments offer a newsletter and/or fact sheet that describes careers, recent graduate successes and faculty news. 
  • Look for a schedule of special events, clubs or an honor society for majors and any any networking opportunities available.

Academic Catalogs

Academic catalogs spell out the course requirements needed to graduate with a degree in that subject. They clearly explain the type of courses, number of credits necessary and grades required. Each major will contain a complete listing of courses currently offered, providing short descriptions of required courses, as well as frequently offered electives.

  • Take a look at the courses and decide if they sound interesting. 
  • Consider the amount of courses available – will you be able to get into the classes you want each semester?

If you like what you see, consider sending an e-mail with questions to the department head or advisor. Many department heads, and some faculty members, will provide their e-mail or phone number on the department pages. If they do so, it’s a good indicator of their level of availability to students. Use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself and consider scheduling an appointment to meet when you visit the campus.

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