As freshmen, being thrown into a brand new environment can sometimes make students feel lost, confused and undecided. When the struggles of moving away from home and making new friends are combined with navigating academic life, these feelings can become even more exacerbated.
That’s why Ohio University is sponsoring its annual Majors Fair, an event designed to help students connect with faculty, discover new opportunities and explore different majors.
The 19th annual Majors Fair will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams on Wednesday, Sept. 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cristy Null, assistant director for Advising and Student Services, said the purpose of this event is for students to explore different colleges the university has to offer. The event includes opportunities to speak with faculty about different majors, minors, certificates, co-curriculars and study abroad opportunities.
Null is co-chair of the Majors Fair committee. She said the committee is made up of faculty and staff representatives from all colleges on campus and, together, they prepare for and execute the event.
She said in the past, the event was held in person in Baker University Center, but similarly to the fall of 2020, due to protocol taken for COVID-19, the event will be held virtually.
Paul Benedict, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and associate professor of instruction in the College of Business, said he believes it is unfortunate that it won’t be possible for professors to reach out to students who are walking by their booth or quietly observing since all faculty-student interaction will be conducted through a computer screen.
However, Benedict said he believes the event will still be successful in engaging students.
“The thing that I do think works in the online environment is you can still have meaningful one-on-one connections with people,” Benedict said.
Null said students can sign up for the event on the Majors Fair website. From there, students will select any subjects that interest them and be able to access these sessions on the day of the event and move freely between them.
The event will be held during the sixth week of classes as it is every year, Null said. She said the reason for this is the last day for students to change their major is the end of the seventh week of the semester. She said this timing also allows students to have a chance on campus to get acclimated and find their interests.
Although this event can be helpful for students who are undecided in their major, the Majors Fair is designed to assist every first-year student, whether or not they already have a major selected, Null said. She said the opportunity to discuss different programs with faculty and learn about opportunities within different programs of study is something anyone can benefit from.
“Engaging with faculty and program representatives is really important, even if it is virtual, because those faculty members are the experts of their own programs,” Null said. “That more intimate program knowledge piece that they get from faculty interaction is very, very important.”
Benedict has been involved with the Majors Fair for about four years. He said throughout his time working with students, he has found the Majors Fair plays a crucial part in discovering an academic pathway.
“Some students know what they want to do and what they want to study and where they want to be for the rest of their lives; a lot don’t,” Benedict said. “The process for students of exploring where they could go and what it could mean for them is really important.”
Benedict said the reason the event is so important is because it gives professors a chance to reach a multitude of students they wouldn’t have found if it wasn’t for this impactful experience.
“I feel this almost evangelical zeal,” Benedict said. “I’ve got to reach as many students as I can because I know I have something that can help them.”
Nico Genovesi, a freshman studying psychology, said he believes the event could be helpful for his fellow classmates and him. He said it could potentially allow him to learn about different academic and career paths to take.
Genovesi added that he sees the event as a great way for students who aren’t sure what they want to do to get more information about what they can get out of their college experience.
Null echoed this sentiment and said the Majors Fair has something to offer for all students and that any first-year student could benefit from the experience.
“There’s some really cool stuff out there that OU is offering as far as programs of study,” Null said. “Students owe it to themselves to go and explore all of their different options.”