A-Z Index

Deciding Students

Each year, about 15 percent of our incoming freshmen and a number of transfer students begin their education at Northwest as a deciding student.

Northwest supports deciding students by offering a deciding student professional advisor to assist students through the major and career exploration process. With the assistance of the deciding student professional advisors, students will evaluate personal interests, abilities, needs and values and how each fits with a major or career.

Deciding students select from one of four meta-majors. The meta-major concept is designed to allow you to explore while also ensuring you remain on the path to an undergraduate degree. The four meta-majors areas include Sciences, Business, Education, and University Studies. Students who may wish to pursue a major in the sciences, business-related area, or education field are encouraged to select the related meta-major. University Studies meta major is for a deciding student with no interest in sciences, business, or education. The University Studies meta-major allows additional exploration while taking only Northwest Core (general education courses) and institutional requirements. The Northwest Core consists of 44-47 credit hours and institutional requirements (4 hours) allowing students necessary exploration time prior to making a decision on their major.

To further explore the majors and departments in each meta-major you may want to look through the list of majors and minors. To read about a students progression toward a major, view four-year plans.

The staff at the Student Success Center are happy to assist deciding students in the process of choosing a major.

Contact them at:

The Decision Process

First, don’t be daunted by the fact that you have not yet chosen a major. College is, at its core, a journey of self-exploration and discovery. In most cases, being a deciding student will not keep you in college longer than a student who has declared a major. This is largely because of general education requirements (General Education) known as the Northwest Core. Everyone completes the Northwest Core, regardless of their major, and these can be excellent opportunities to sample a variety of disciplines and ideas. In fact, many upperclassmen will tell you they selected their majors or minors based on positive experiences they had in General ed classes. You might take advantage of some of these courses to get a taste of what a particular major is all about.

Northwest Core is the curricular foundation at Northwest; it encourages students to acquire and use the intellectual tools, knowledge and creative capabilities necessary to study the world as it is, as it is to be understood and as it might be imagined. It also furnishes students with skills that enable them to deepen their understanding and to communicate with others.


Student Success Center

The Student Success Center, located on the second floor of the library, was developed to assist various populations from orientation to graduation, including the deciding student population. Stop by for one-on-one counseling on a major that will fit your personality.

Career Services

The Career Services Office, located in the Administration Building, has a variety of resources to assist in your major decision, including a comprehensive career library, personal career counseling appointments and an Internet-delivered career guidance program. The Career Services staff can then help you identify Northwest majors designed to help you reach your career goal.

Personal Development & Counseling Services

Counselors can give you advice on coping with some of the pressures that come with being a deciding student in a world where the first question a person asks is “What’s your major?”

B.D. Owens Library

The library collection and services support scholarly research and provide current information that promotes student competencies concerning lifelong learning, critical thinking, communication and research. In addition to research assistance, many vital instructional support service areas are also available.

Exploring Majors and Minors

Each fall semester, all the academic departments on campus present an Exploring Majors and Minors fair in which Deciding students can ask questions of students and faculty to explore which major is right for them. A smaller version of Exploring Majors and Minors is offered each spring so that further help and information is readily available in each of your first two semesters.

Visit a listing of majors and minors offered »

Activities and Organizations

One of the most important things you can do during college is to get involved with clubs and organizations that interest you. This way, you can meet other people, find out what they’re studying, how well they like it and what the classwork and extracurricular activities are going to entail. To find out more about the 175 clubs and organizations on campus, you can attend the Student Organizations Fair that takes place early in the term.

Northwest Core (General Education Requirements)

The courses designated as the Northwest Core will help student’s foundational skills that will transfer to their major while integrating the application of knowledge in a variety of disciplines. The immediate practice and acquisition of broad knowledge and appreciation for this is integral to success.  Fundamental appreciation for and knowledge of Northwest Core courses provides support for greater achievement in the university and in our greater universal community.

Northwest Core courses not only support the educational goals of students, but the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (North West Missouri States Accrediting agency) suggests that they provide additional advantages:

  • Understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures
  • Mastering multiple modes of Inquiry
  • Effectively analyzing and communication information
  • Recognizing the importance of creativity and values to the human spirit

Practicum Courses

In addition to clubs and organizations, many departments offer practicum classes that you can take early on during college to see if you will like their programs. For instance, if you’re unsure about journalism or broadcasting, there are practicum classes in which you can work at a radio station for a semester, or gain experience at The Northwest Missourian, the student newspaper.

Northwest Departments and Colleges

College of Arts and Sciences Professional Schools

Meta-Major Map

Sciences Education Business

University Studies Map