UND to make students declare major
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Students at University of North Dakota will now have to declare a major around the time they finish their sophomore year. A new policy passed by the University Senate last fall states students must work with the Student Succe...
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Students at University of North Dakota will now have to declare a major around the time they finish their sophomore year.
A new policy passed by the University Senate last fall states students must work with the Student Success Center to declare a major once they've taken 60 credits, or about 20 classes, effective fall 2015.
"By the time students are ending their sophomore year, which is at about 60 credits, we want them to choose a major because it does some really important things for them," Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Steve Light said. "It encourages them to think about what their chosen field and career is going to be. It organizes their college experience to get there, and it encourages deep learning, which is what you get from a major."
The policy was loosely implemented in January at the start of this spring semester by sending out emails to undeclared students who had taken at least 45 credits.
Student Success Center Associate Director Angie Carpenter said this affected about 90 students.
If students don't choose a major, a hold will be placed on their accounts and they will not be able to continue to register for classes.
"Since students weren't aware, we didn't want to put a hold on them. So for the spring semester, we just reached out to students," Carpenter said.
The goal is to improve retention and four-year graduation rates.
"But so is helping students with their career exploration, helping them make that decision so that they are able to graduate in four years," Carpenter said.
Staying on track
From 2001 to 2010, an average of 23 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen graduated in four years, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research. The class that began academic careers in 2010 had the highest rate of four-year completions in the last decade with 26 percent.
UND had no pre-existing policy regarding the selection of a major, but Carpenter and Light said it's a best practice nationwide. The University of Minnesota-Duluth, Southern Illinois University and the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University all have similar policies in place, to name a few.
"The data shows the more you intervene early with students and help point them in the direction of a clear pathway through their major, that the more likely you are to help students stick around and graduate in four years," Light said.
This new policy is in conjunction with several other campus initiatives to improve retention and graduation rates. The school is aiming to improve academic advising by providing four-year road maps to graduation so students can see which courses they need to take and when in order to graduate on time.
Light said he would have loved to have these services available when he was in college, as he floated from philosophy to East Asian studies before landing on a political science major.
"This is yet another piece that we're rolling out recently here in all of our efforts to help guide students toward a timely graduation and advise students successfully," he said.