Student Stories

Adam - Forestry


Why he chose Open Option:
"I had no idea what I wanted to study. I considered a lot of different areas, including business, computers and psychology."

When he declared a major:
During his second year.

On choosing his major:
"I love the outdoors. So I talked to advisers about possible majors and looked at the different courses offered and the careers out there that looked like a good fit for me."

Advice for other Open Option students:
"Choose a major that will allow you to do something you enjoy."

Alessandra - Biology, Environmental Science


Why she chose Open Option:
"I knew I wanted to do something in a science field. I like biology, and I took an introductory course. I just loved it and looked into majoring in it." Alessandra added an Environmental Science major because she also enjoys ecology courses. "Working in water quality appealed to me."

When she declared her major:
End of her freshman year. "It was my goal to choose a major by the end of my first year."

What helped her choose her major:
"I viewed departmental web sites, talked to my adviser and looked at how different courses would apply to different majors."

Advice for other Open Option students:
"Don't hesitate to enter Iowa State as an open option student. I'm glad I did. I hadn't explored a lot of majors."

Shanelle - Nutritional Science, Pre-health Professional


Why she chose Open Option:
"I was fairly certain I wanted to major in a science field, but I didn't know which one."

When she declared her major:
End of her freshman year.

On choosing her major:
"I chose Nutritional Science because I did undergraduate research through the Freshman Honors Program with Professor Diane Birt. I talked to her a lot about the program and how it fit with my career plans. I want to earn my bachelor's degree and then become a nurse practitioner."

Advice for other Open Option students:
"Do the research to get to know the majors. Joining different groups really helps. Trying different general education courses from different departments is also helpful in choosing a major."

Mandy - Accounting


Why Open Option:
"I really liked the Iowa State campus, but I didn't know what I wanted to study. I've heard you change a lot when you get to college, so I thought Open Option was the best opportunity for me to really look at all the choices."

When she declared her major:
Beginning of her junior year. "I declared my major later than most students."

Exploring Iowa State's many majors:
"My adviser asked what my interests were and suggested some courses for me to take. I also took general education courses to stay on track to graduate in four years." In addition she used Iowa State's Career Exploration Services to narrow her choices, which helped lead her to accounting.

On choosing the College of Business:
"I wanted a major that would work well with my Spanish minor. And a lot of my other classes fit well with the business curriculum."

How her Open Option adviser provided assistance:
"I met with an adviser when I first visited campus and had another adviser once I started school. They were amazing. They were super helpful and encouraged me to explore my options. They gave me the confidence that I could be in Open Option and not fall behind. I was told I was not 'undecided,' but that I was actively exploring my options at Iowa State. That's something that has always stayed with me."

Amy - Biology


How Open Option worked for her:
"When I came to Iowa State, I wanted to go into a health field, maybe dental school or medical school, but I really had no idea what one." So Amy chose the Open Option Program, following in her older brother's footsteps. "He was pre-dental, and he also went through Open Option. So that was really helpful to know it was okay if I didn't choose my major right away and that it was fine to explore all the majors for awhile."

When she declared her major:
End of her sophomore year. Amy will graduate in four years. She took her general education courses during her first two years and is taking her major courses in her final two years.

How her adviser guided her exploration:
"She told me to job-shadow some people. So I went and job-shadowed a chiropractor, a physician's assistant and a dentist just to see if the health field was where I wanted to be. And that helped me realize that's where my interests were."

Advice for other Open Option students:
"It's okay to not know what you want to study and to take a little time to look at all your options because there are so many majors at Iowa State University. So take some time to explore."