Our Summer version of Welcome to the Majors is this Friday. The event is meant to introduce new students to the College’s culture– a culture that stresses the importance of using academic performance, professional development and extra-curricular engagement to craft a portfolio of accomplishments that will ensure that graduates realize their early career goals. Each semester we bring in an accomplished speaker to set the stage for the student experience that lies ahead. This edition’s featured speaker is Laurette Koellner, a 1977 graduate of the College and member of the Dean’s Advisory Board. Laurette’s many professional experiences includes serving as President of Boeing International. She very well may be the most accomplished business woman to graduate from the College. She even has her own Wikipedia page! Laurette is a terrific speaker and I’m sure she’s going to “wow” the 600 students in attendance with her message about how to “get to the one.”
The “Welcome to the Majors” title is a play on my love of baseball, but it also represents a key decision many students face when they enter the College: What to major in? Some students come believing they already know their path. Many plan to figure it out along the way. Frankly, the decision about a major is a bit over-rated. Figuring out what you want to do with your life and career is way more important. It’s why we make answering this question the subject of our first professional development class. It is also why we require you to complete the primary core before allowing you to choose a major. Professional success comes from finding the intersection between your talents, interests and desires on the one hand and what someone else is willing to pay you to do on the other. No one ever got a job merely because they wanted or needed one. They got a career opportunity because someone else was convinced they had the talent, experiences and passion to solve a problem. The primary core helps students identify where they have sufficient talent and interest to succeed.
Our evidence to date suggests most students do not find a quick path to a major. Of the roughly 2500 students to attend the Wecome to the Majors event over the last year, only 40 percent have finished the primary core and gained access to a major. Some students came to the College still needing to complete the common program prerequisites. Many have decided to take two semesters to complete the five courses that comprise the primary core rather than do them all in one semester. Still others have decided to use their one retake of a primary core course before choosing a major.
When they do make it through, many choose a different major than what they expected coming into the College. So far, the numbers look like this: Finance 256; Integrated Business 229; Accounting 135; Management 123; Marketing 104; Business Economics 57; and Real Estate 30. The Integrated Business major didn’t even exist two years ago when many of this year’s students entered UCF. Now, it is our second most popular major among students who have completed the primary core.
So when you are standing at Welcome to the Majors this Friday, know that this is just the start of your experience in the College. The journey is going to challenge you to think hard about what you want to do, get you out of your comfort zone, make you plan for the future and likely change you in the process. That’s a good thing. It will help get you to that “one” we will be talking about.
See you Friday. Oh, and bring some swagger.