Students at Heart

By The KMETC Peer Coaches

For a lot of students, going to college for the first time changes their entire perspective on the world around them and opens the door to endless opportunities. Undergraduate lives are filled with self-exploration in all aspects, including personal, professional, and academic. Questions may arise about how to conduct oneself in the world and how those actions can lead to the common and respected goal of enacting positive change in the world. One of the most important and potentially toughest questions a student might ask themselves to begin this exploration process is, “What do I want to major in?” 

The University of Central Florida (UCF) helps students address that question with offices like the new Knights Major Exploration and Transition Center (KMETC), which offers services like our Peer Coaching Program to aid students in their exploration process. Today’s college students have many options when it comes to what they can study, including sub-specializations, so it can become overwhelming to try and know what the best option is. Currently, UCF has over 220 undergraduate degree programs that can ultimately lead to a paradox of choice. Sometimes the perspective and support of someone who has been through a similar experience helps showcase various pathways that exist, which is the main role we play as the KMETC Peer Coaches. By combining peer coaching with professional advising, KMETC can curate the optimal exploration experience for students. 

KMETC’s Peer Coaching Program, as part of the Division of Student Learning and Academic Success PeerKnights initiative, supports and empowers undergraduate students through their major exploration process with relatable experiences. The program consists of ten peer coaches who have gone through varying degrees of major exploration during their time at UCF. Through the bond of our shared experiences, we seek to mentor and help guide students to resources and create an academic support system for the UCF community. As students ourselves, we see the value in helping our fellow students because one thing is clear: we are stronger together. We can connect undeclared and exploring students to clubs, Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), our professional advising team, and we’re here to help them on their exploration journey in any way we can. We want to share our insights about college decisions and offer a safe place for them to work through their questions. 

It’s because we have these shared student experiences that the KMETC Peer Coaches have collectively decided to write this article to express our passion for this program. We truly feel any student could benefit from major exploration, even students who may have already declared a major but might still be wondering what else is available. We are here to help all students make sure that they are ready and confident to answer those hard life questions we all ask ourselves. KMETC has so much to offer to any student at UCF, and they are more than welcome to make an appointment with our office.

The following are testimonials from some of our peer coaches and students speaking on some of the challenges they faced before the creation of KMETC. Hopefully, by sharing our stories with fellow students, we can inspire those who might be nervous to begin their major exploration and take the next step. 

“When I first came to UCF, I was as undecided as a freshman could possibly be. I had plenty of interests, I just had no ideas as to what direction I wanted to head in, let alone what I wanted to major in. After taking a couple intro classes I ended up falling in love with legal studies and now, I am planning on going to law school once I graduate UCF. I know exactly what it was like to be lost and feel like you will never figure out what you want to do, but UCF has resources like KMETC that are here to help you.” 

“I came to UCF as a transfer student who thought I knew exactly what I wanted to study. I was so set on majoring in math, but at some point, I began to wonder what the point was. I enjoyed the subject, and I was good at it, but I didn’t envision myself working in the professional options my degree offered me. By this point, I was scared of changing my major and falling behind since I’d put so much work into it already. Now, as a peer coach, I feel confident in my ability to show students that changing halfway through your major is not the end of the world. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Education, about one third of college students change majors at some point in their college career.” 

“One of the toughest things about my first year at UCF was that I didn’t know any of the resources available to me. It was a new environment, it was stressful, and sometimes it lonely. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were a lot of UCF resources that could have helped me. It wasn’t until I attended a seminar specifically on UCF departments that I realized how large of a community there is to support students. Being able to connect students to other resources and help them realize what is available to them is an important part of the KMETC office. I think it helps put it into perspective for students how each UCF department is connected and how they all have one goal: to help the students succeed to the best of their abilities.” 

These testimonials are just some of the shared experiences we have had as peer coaches and students. Believe it or not, our advisors also have many similar stories, even ones about being exploratory themselves! Through personal or professional experiences, KMETC understands what students are going through, and we are here to make sure that no one ever feels alone at UCF. Everyone has a place in KMETC. 

Being exploratory does not fit just one student profile. It is all of us – transfer students and first-time students, Performing Arts majors and STEM majors, and everything in between. We hope that our stories resonate with UCF students and show that anything is possible. Coming together as a community, with all its distinct moving parts, is what makes us stronger together. At the present time, the Peer Coaching Program is no longer meeting students for the Fall 2020 semester. Appointments will begin again in Spring 2021, and we are excited to meet with anyone who wants to check us out. Interested students are encouraged to call the KMETC office at (407) 821-3165 or visit our website, for more information. 

The KMETC Peer Coaches:

Alexa Martinez

Alyssa Gongora

Christine Sarkis

Eliana Jacobs

Madelyn Torres

Natalie Crutchfield

Rebeka Crowe 

Stephania Restrepo

Sydney Worrall 

William Lijewski