Choosing your Major
Choosing your major is an important decision-making process as a college student, and you can navigate it successfully! Your major is your intended academic goal at Clark. It also aims toward your academic and/or career goal after Clark. This means decision-making about your Clark College major includes thinking about your future.
Throughout your academic journey, you may refer to the following Decision-Making Process and FAQ sections to learn useful resources and strategies.
At Clark College, we offer many opportunities for you to intentionally work through the process of choosing a major that aligns with your long-term goals. This section outlines this process, with information and resources to support your decision-making.
Declare Initial Major
You declare your major at Clark when you complete the Clark College application for admission, but consider this a first step in your process. Many students at Clark College do not know what academic goal to pursue at this time, some have a few interests, and some have a very sapecific goal. In all cases, we recommend students continue learning, exploring, and clarifying their goal.
At this stage, you have declared something, but keep in mind that not all selections (e.g. "Undecided" or "Non Degree Seeking") in the application are actual academic programs at Clark and, therefore, not eligible for financial aid funding. Students who consider themselves "Undecided" but are seeking financial aid should consult with a career advisor to determine what actual major to select inititally in order to meet this financial aid eligibilty requirement. Once determind, students may update their major (see "How to Declare your Major" section).
New Student Orientation
The Career Planning and Academic Advising sections of New Student Orientation provides additional major declaration guidance to new students. The Career Planning sections show how to update your major, and the Academic Advising section introduces you to Clark College majors, or programs of study.
Clark College's College 101: College Essentials class provides students additional guidance on planning for a career and how this relates to choosing your major. It is a great class for new college students. Although this course is required for some programs, it is not require for all; therefore, it is important for students not taking COLL 101 to seek other ways to learn more about majors and career interests. These students may consider resources and strategies under "Gather Information about Programs and Career Interests"
Gather Information About Programs and Career Interests
Program Information- What are the program options at Clark?
As a Clark College student, you can earn a degree or certificate from one of our six Areas of Study to prepare yourself for employment or transfer to a four-year institution.
Among these options, there are two types of degrees at Clark: transfer and applied/technical. The Associate in Arts (AA) degree is designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor's degree. The applied/technical programs are designed for students interested in gaining specific, technical career skills.
When considering your options on which type of degree/certificate may be best for your career and academic goals, we invite you to explore the Program Maps. Program Maps give an example of a term-by-term plan of courses, based on full-time enrollment. Maps can be used as a planning resource, but we recommend you meet with an academic or faculty advisor to develop your long-term education plan.
For more detailed descriptions of Clark programs, visit the Academic Planning section of MyPlan, and select the essential activity under "Finding Your Path."
Career Exploration - what are my long-term goals?
Career exploration helps you determine your long-term goals and guides your academic planning. Here are some resources you may use to explore careers:
- The Career Planning section of MyPlan offers "Career Awareness" activities, designed to broaden your perspective of what careers relate to your interests. There you will find downloadable career exploration activities and links to more career planning resources
- Career assessments are tools for understanding your interests, values and skills better, and how they relate to careers. You can take brief or in-depth assessments
- It is valuable to have conversations with professionals as a part of your career exploration process. This may include a conversation with a family member or friend about their career, or setting up a brief meeting with a professional in an area of interest. This is called an informational interview.
- You can learn what careers are related to common academic majors. Visit What Can I Do with a Major In?
Clarification - what program option is right for my long-term goals?
Regular meetings with Clark College staff can help you clarify whether your career and academic goals are aligned. Here are some examples of who you can meet with and how to connect with them:
- A Career Advisor helps you identify your interests and guides you toward related careers. Your long-term goal will determine your academic goals. You can schedule an appointment through Career Services.
- An Academic Advisor supports with course planning throughout an academic program and checks on how academic goals relate to career goals. You can schedule an appointment through Advising Services.
- Some Clark College programs have dedicated faculty advisors who guide your course planning and support with identifying related career options. To learn whether your program offers faculty advising, visit the Advisor Contact Information page.
Once you've clarified your academic path, update your major (see instructions in "How to Declare your Major" section).
Select Relevant Courses and Work-Based Learning Experiences
The major decision-making process is more than declaring a major, but regularely evaluating how well your academic experiences are preparing you for goals after Clark. Whether your plan is to transfer to a university or seek immediate employment after Clark, these strategies can help you evaluate your readiness for the next step.
Transfer student strategies
- Regular check-in meetings with Clark College academic or faculty advisors
- Research admissions criteria/processes for universities that offer your desired major
- Speak with a representative or Academic Advisor for the university and major you want to pursue
- Conduct informational interviews with relevant industry professionals (contact Career Services at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance)
Non-transfer student strategies
- Conduct informational interviews with relevant indusry professionals (contact program faculty or email@example.com for guidance)
- Participate in local recruitment and Clark College employment events related to your Clark major
- Participate in paid or unpaid short and long term internship/co-op work experiences
- Obtain industry-valued professional certification(s)
- Develop job search skills - including effective interviewing techniques, or writing a resume and cover letter. Visit the Career Planning section of MyPlan and select "Job Search Strategies."
How to Declare Your Major
Follow these steps:
- Go to MyClark@Clark page on the Clark website
- Log in using your Student Lab account username and password (for login assistance, visit the Clark College Tech Hub)
- Select "Major Declaration" from the menu on the right side
- Login to Major Declaration portal, using Student Lab username and password (same as step #2)
- Select the green "I want to add a new major" button
- Search the list to find your major, then click on "Add Selected Major"
- Select the red "remove" button
- Submit your changes using the blue "Submit Request" button
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a major?
What is a major declaration?
What are the benefits of choosing a major?
There are many important reasons for declaring a major, especially declaring the major that is right for your long-term goals. You may declare more than once, if you realize your first choice does not align with your emerging goal or interest. Here are just a few of the benefits of declaring a major, not all of which will apply to all students:
What greater benefit than obtaining your degree or certificate and participating in your graduation ceremony? To obtain your degree or certificate, you must first declare it.
Financial aid eligibility
All students seeking federal or state financial aid benefits, as well as many other types of financial aid, must have a declared, active major at the college. In other words, students must officially select a program that the college currently offers, which is also considered a financial aid eligible program. Keep in mind that some programs are not considered eligible for traditional financial aid funding, but may be eligible for funding from other sources.
Running Start students
Although Running Start (RS) students are not required to declare a major, it is useful to do so. With a declared major, the college can easily identify your academic goal, connect tyou with an appropriate academic or faculty advisor, who can determine what classes are needed to reach the goal. Additionally, if a former RS student enrolls at Clark after RS eligibility ends, they will be required to declare a major in order to receive financial aid.
Clarification of degree or certificate requirements at Clark
All students make decisions about what classes they should take to most efficiently and effectively reach their academic and career goals. By declaring your major, you are informing the college what you are trying to accomplish, which in turn helps the college more effectively help you choose the right classes. It's a win-win scenario!
Proper assignment to academic/faculty advisor
Students who have declared a major and have begun their first term of classes will be assigned an academic or faculty advisor. Students are assigned to advisors based on the major they declare. The advisor is the student's "point person" for course planning through program completion. Clark believes students are served best when they have and know their primary point of contact for academic planning.
I am transferring to another school after Clark. Does Clark offer the major and courses I need?
In most cases, yes. We recommend that you communicate early and often with an academic advisor at the university or school to which you want to transfer. This way, you learn what classes are also required at the university which you can complete at Clark, rather than taking those classes at the university at a higher tuition rate. You can share the information you gather from the university with a Clark College academic or faculty advisor, who can incorporate those courses into your academic plan and determine whether your declared major at Clark is most aligned with your academic requirements at the university.
There may be a case where Clark College does not offer all the classes you need to meet the requirements to be considered a third-year, junior-level student upon transfer to a university. In this case, you can meet with an academic advisors at Clark for suggestions on how you can strategize to meet your transfer goals.
I am completing the General Transfer Degree at Clark. Will this degree prepare me to transfer to a university?
Yes, but especially if you plan your courses to align with your university major. The General Transfer degree (Associate in Arts - DTA) is used by many Clark College students to fulfill the general education and some lower-division (i.e., 1st and 2nd year) courses toward a university major. However, this is not the only transfer degree offered at Clark. If you are pursuing a major in natural science, engineering, or business discipline (to name a few), another transfer degree may align better with the degree requirements at a university.
Although many students complete the general transfer degree at Clark each year, not every student is equally prepared for transfer. One of the great benefits of the general transfer degree is how it can be customized to many university majors. To maximize this benefit, you should identify - based on career interests - what major you want to pursue, then select Clark classes which align with that goal.
What is an "interest area" at Clark?
Interest areas within the Associate in Arts transfer degrees provide students with an opportunity to take classes in a specific area that may match the academic major upon transferring to a four-year college or university. If you would like to take classes in a particular interest area, work with your advisor to find the best classes to meet your transfer goals. Some courses in a program may need to be changed depending on the transfer institution. Interest areas may or may not be noted on a student's transcript. To learn more, visit Associate in Arts Interest Areas.
What should I do if I want to change my major halfway through an academic program?
We expect and encourage you to discover interests and explore careers while enrolled at Clark. It is quite common for students to start with one program and then realize they want to pursue another. We recommend the following steps before officially changing the major:
- If you are receiving any financial aid for school, check in with the Clark College Financial Aid Office and/or other agency providing your school benefits. Even if the major change has no effect on funding eligibility, it is very important that you gather information and are fully aware of policies or regulations before making the change.
- If unsure what major you want next or seeking more opportunities to learn about a growing career interest, meet with a career advisor. It's possible this conversation will clarify your next academic goal or even help you see new potential in the program you're already in!
- If you know what major you want to pursue, meet with your assigned academic advisor (if unsure who this is, check your ctcLink account) to determine how classes from the current major apply to the new major, and what classes you have remaining.
- If, after taking the above steps you determine a different major is the right option for you, use the instructions in the "How do I declare?" section above to update your major.
I was not accepted into my competitive entry (Nursing, Dental Hygiene) program. What do I do now?
You should clarify your reasons for pursuing the career, be well-informed about the occupation, and be aware of the competitive-entry process of the program. It is also important to regularly check in with an academic advisor who specializes in your program so you can determine your level of competitiveness.
If you apply and are not accepted to the program, you have several options to consider, depending on several factors, summarized below.
- Level of interest/commitment to the career and academic program
- Amount of funding available for supporting additional coursework
- Confidence level in improving grades and/or other selection criteria
- Reapply for the Clark College program at the next available admissions period
- Continue progress toward a general transfer (Associate in Arts - DTA) or nursing transfer (Pre-Nursing - DTA) degree toward another institution's nursing or dental hygiene program
- Based on further career exploration, complete a Clark College general transfer (AA-DTA) or other degree toward a different career and academic goal
Note: Consult with Clark College's Financial Aid Office and/or agency providing education benefits before changing your academic major.
For more information about competitive entry process and acceptable statistics for past cohorts, visit the Nursing and Dental Hygiene pages.
To discuss program prerequisites, competitiveness for a program, and strategic options if you are not accepted, meet with a HealthCare and BioScience academic advisor.
For personalized career guidance, meet with a Career Advisor.