You can declare anytime during your first or second year, but you need to declare during sophomore spring if you haven’t already. Departments do not usually allow you to declare during the summer. It can take a few weeks to go through all the steps, and the people you need to talk to may not be available during finals week, so don’t leave it to the last minute.
Sometimes a good way to evaluate the major is to “try it on”—declare, integrate yourself into the department, and see if it’s the right fit. You can certainly change majors if you later realize a different field is a better fit for you.
If you are considering a particular major, go visit the department. You can often learn a lot in person, or from browsing corkboards.
The process of declaring a major varies by department.
In general, once you’ve decided a major is right for you, you will fill out a Program Sheet that charts the courses you will take to complete the major, have the program sheet approved by your faculty Major Advisor in a meeting, and then finalize the declaration in Axess.
However, all departments are different—some will have you write a reflective essay; some also require that you meet with the peer advisors or course advisor; some assign you a faculty Major Advisor while others have you find your own. But just about every department will have a Declaring the Major section on their website, somewhere (for Engineering majors, this page is in the appropriate chapter of the UGHB). Find that page and it will walk you through the process for that department.
Your Academic Advising Director or another UAR advisor can help with general questions at the beginning of this process, but it’s very likely that the best person to contact with questions is the Student Services Officer for the department. If a department has peer advisors, they are also excellent places to start.
Be aware: selecting a major in Axess is often the smallest and least important step in this process!